As the conflict in Ukraine continues to escalate, aspects of life we often take for granted have turned into urgent needs for many in the war-torn country. But while steps have been taken to help provide for food, water, shelter, and many other necessities for those either fleeing the violence or trapped therein, internet access has become an area of increasing concern for Ukrainians and their leaders.
Disrupting communications has long been a staple of military strategy. And while it does not appear that the Russians have managed to completely sever the Ukrainian government’s ability to communicate with its citizens, reports of “significant disruptions” in Kyiv and throughout other parts of the country have become more frequent.
Early Tuesday morning, Russian forces attacked the capital city’s primary television tower, and assaults on other forms of communication seem likely to follow. So their Vice Prime Minister, Mykhailo Fedorov, decided to do something about it.
Fedorov reached out to Elon Musk via Twitter, stating “@elonmusk, while you try to colonize Mars—Russia try to occupy Ukraine! While your rockets successfully land from space—Russian rockets attack Ukrainian civil people! We ask you to provide Ukraine with Starlink stations and to address sane Russians to stand.”
Roughly ten hours later, Musk responded: “Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals en route.”
Starlink is the satellite internet system that Musk’s SpaceX company has developed to one day provide internet access to every corner of the globe. To date, the company has placed more than two thousand satellites in space, with permission to increase that total to at least twelve thousand in the near future.
The satellites can then connect with individual dishes on the planet to give internet access anywhere within their ever-increasing network. After an underwater volcano disrupted internet service on the island of Tonga in January, Musk sent fifty such systems to help reconnect the remote villages that dot the small nation. The hope is that Ukraine will soon enjoy a similar boost.
Internet access, however, is not the only service Musk has recently offered to provide.
Who will save the ISS?
When Putin first launched his invasion of Ukraine, he threatened to allow the International Space Station to fall out of orbit if other nations sanctioned Russia in response. After western powers followed through with the punishments, the Russian director of their Roscosmos space program appeared to escalate that threat, tweeting “If you block cooperation with us, who will save the ISS from an uncontrolled deorbit and fall into the United States and Europe?”
Musk replied with the SpaceX logo, later confirming that he was offering to step in if needed.
It’s unclear what SpaceX could do in the event that Russia decides to make good on their threat—they claim to run the engines that control the station’s orbit and location—and the odds of them allowing their own astronauts to die in what would amount to an attack on the better part of an entire continent seems very low.
Still, it was yet another win for Musk and his company by responding to the needs—real and perceived—created by the war in Ukraine.
Your most powerful witness
While you and I may not have the capacity to provide instant internet to someone across the globe or stop a five-hundred-ton space station from plummeting to earth, all of us come across opportunities to make a real difference in people’s lives by simply responding at their place of need.
Unfortunately, far too often we let those opportunities pass us by because we’re too focused on complaining about what’s going wrong or looking for someone else to step in instead.
The most powerful witness to the love and grace of Christ has long been the compassion and kindness of his people.
Jesus testified to that fact when he said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). And though he described what that love is supposed to look like across his various parables and sermons, he taught it most clearly in the way he spent every day making time to meet the needs of the people who came across his path.
The same Holy Spirit with whom Jesus worked throughout his ministry to discern needs and help the hurting stands ready to help us do the same. We simply have to be willing to listen and obey.
So whether it’s walking through the halls of your office, scrolling social media, or even just listening to the people sitting around you at dinner, every day presents opportunities to respond to the needs of someone and help them experience God’s love and grace through us.
Who is he calling you to help today?