WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. (FOX 2) - A world away in Ukraine, reports show the destruction and despair in Ukraine.
Don and Esther Parsons sit and watch anxiously at their West Bloomfield home - praying for an end to this crisis.
"It’s hard to not be tied to the news," said Esther, a former missionary. "We just find ourselves continually, stopping, praying for people, finding out about someone else. stopping, praying."
The couple has Ukraine in their hearts and displayed at their home.
"It’s just scary to realize this is happening in a place where your family is, where your friends are, where your brothers and sisters in Jesus are," said Don.
In 1997, the Parsons were Christian missionaries in Ukraine. A scrapbook at their home is a flashback to a more peaceful time.
It’s a stark contrast to recent photos of empty grocery store shelves and devastation near the church they helped build.
"One of our sons, he’s been struck by the reality that there’s explosions happening down the street from where we lived," Don said.
For several years, Don Parsons served as pastor of Ukrainian Church. He worked with Pastor Andrei, who has now opened his church to displaced families.
At the most, 45 to 50 people hunkered down on the dirt floor of the church’s unfinished basement. Don tells us he spoke to Andrei two hours before our interview.
"He said, ‘I have no intention of leaving,’" Don said. "When he told me that, in recognizing what’s happening and the military approaching Kyiv — that was a hard moment. I understood, though, too. really, Andrei is a hero to me. Andrei and his wife Allah.
"He says, 'I have to stay here because God’s called me here to care for these people.'"
Don now works with Mission Eurasia, an organization that established hubs to provide care packages for Ukrainian people.