Diego’s Story: An Art Piece of God’s Heart for the Ukrainian People
Updated: Mar 7, 2022
Last Wednesday afternoon, my wife shared with me about a student of hers who drew a breath-taking picture depicting the conflict in Ukraine. Nearly moved to tears when she first saw the drawing, she took a picture of it on her phone and showed it to me when she arrived home from work. Upon viewing the picture, one of the first words I uttered was, “This is a drawing the world needs to see.”
The drawing illustrates a picture of Jesus embracing two Ukrainian families: the first family hugging one another as they separate and say goodbye, and the second of two children holding hands. These two images were inspired by news articles the student had seen online. A royal sash with the colors of the Ukrainian flag and a map of the country at the center of Jesus’ chest, this symbolizes Christ’s love and Lordship over the people of Ukraine in their greatest hour of need. Jesus’ protection of the Ukrainian people is most clearly illustrated by the airplanes and tanks aimed at the families, and Jesus protecting them from the incoming bombs and missiles.
The gifted student who drew this picture is Diego Vigil Zaldana, a 7th grade middle school student in Revere, MA. I had the opportunity to interview Diego and ask him what inspired him to draw the picture. He shared with me that, “The day that the war started, that night all my family was praying and I heard my mom say, ‘God, please take care of Ukraine.’ I was thinking about it and then later in the news, they showed families being sad and people getting separated. So then I had the idea of drawing God protecting the people in Ukraine from the war.”
At the bottom right side of the drawing are inscribed the words, “Dios cuida a Ucrania de todo mal,” meaning, “God protects Ukraine from all evil.” Such a statement reveals the profound depths of Diego’s faith, as these words echo back to the Lord’s prayer, as Jesus teaches his disciples to pray for deliverance from the evils of this world. In asking Diego what the central message he would want people to take away from his artwork, he declared that “No matter what, God is always going to take care of the people in need.”
The conflict in Ukraine has caused over 1.45 million people to leave as refugees according to the International Organization for Migration. Neighboring European countries find themselves in a position of determining how to best care for their neighbors in need. As countries and nations reflect on how to best respond to this humanitarian crisis, Diego’s drawing serves as a reminder of God’s sovereignty over Creation and God’s heart for migrant and displaced communities. The arguments, debates, and political controversy are all secondary to the theological truth that above all, God calls his people to take care of others in need. Diego gets it; so should we.
Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube for more content like this.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Daniel Montañez was born in Visalia, CA to a Mexican mother and a Puerto Rican father. He is a Ph.D. student at Boston University and an adjunct instructor for the Latino and Global Ministries Program at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He is the director of Mygration Christian Conference, and the director of the Migration Crisis Initiative for the Church of God (Cleveland, TN). Daniel is dedicated to serving his Latino/a community at the intersection of the Church, the academy, and the public square.
 Matthew Luxmoore and Bojan Pancevski, “Refugees Fleeing Ukraine Now Represent Biggest Movement of People in Europe since World War II,” The Wall Street Journal (Dow Jones & Company, March 5, 2022), https://www.wsj.com/articles/refugees-fleeing-ukraine-now-represent-biggest-movement-of-people-in-europe-since-world-war-ii-11646493910.