by Brandon LaChance

The war Russia and the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has engaged with Ukraine has affected the world, not just Europe.

Cities, towns, and villages across the United States have spent many hours over the last week thinking, talking, and studying the world matter. This of course leads to trying to figure out ways to help in any way possible.

New Life Assembly of God in Dwight and pastors from other churches in Dwight aided the way they know best on Sunday, March 13, as prayer and song were dedicated to Ukraine with a special service called “Uniting Ukraine”.

“I really felt moved to do this. I really feel for Ukraine and the things that are going on over there,” said Burton Gestner, who led the service with songs on his guitar. “I just felt like I needed to be here. My son left to fly back to North Carolina before the service. I was supposed to drive him to the airport. I decided my wife could take him because this was a little more important because someone had to be here to lead the worship.

“I decided to do this today; that’s how important it is to me. We needed to draw attention to it, make awareness of it, and to get people thinking about it.”

The service, which had 20 viewers and participants, had five speakers as New Life Church’s Pastor Randy (Victor Randle) began and ended the gathering with scriptures and prayer.

Grant Speece, Pastor of First Congregational Church, New Life Church member Paul Dyer, Bonnie Randle (Pastor Randy’s wife), and Dwight resident Catrina Canady shared their thoughts and led prayers throughout the service.

Between each speaker, Gestner began a new song. The five songs he chose were “Overcome”, “He Reigns”, “You Never Let Go”, “Our God”, and “Living Hope”.

“A lot of them were about how God helps us and how he is there for us in times of trouble,” said Gestner, who has played music at the church for 18 years. “He always has us, he never lets us go. I felt those were good, supportive songs that people could get behind and understand that God is here for them through all the stuff.”

“Uniting Ukraine” was put together to help spread the word of peace and stop war. It was also made to help share sympathy for the people of Ukraine and other countries in Europe as there was a bomb sighted just outside of Poland.

Donations were taken that will be dispersed to organizations set up to aid Ukraine. The service was moving to all as tears and emotions were shed to those who have lost their lives, lost their lives, and to those who have had their lives turned upside down in the worst way.

“This service means the world to me,” said congregational member Karl Kemper. “God is our lord and savior and we need to reach out to him in times of need. We have to pray for each other because he shares his love to people through us.”

Brandon LaChance is a journalist with The Paper. He can be reached at 815-876-7941,, or on Twitter @LaChanceWriter.