LITTLE ROCK, Ark — Many Ukrainians are searching for refuge as Russia invades. Amongst them were Chris Loux, an Arkansan man and his fiancé, Vira Snigur who's a native of the country.
Even though Loux is thousands of miles away, he's staying in touch with his family back home via Facebook messenger.
"On Thursday morning I woke up and on my phone were just dozens of messages. At that moment I knew something had happened. I heard sirens going off," he said.
Loux served in Ukraine for for an organization called Josiah Venture, which works to equip local church leaders for years to come.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine impacted Loux and his Ukrainian fiancé, Vira Snigur in a very direct way. When the invasion began, the two scrambled to find a way out.
Just weeks before, Loux had proposed on Valentine's Day.
"I called Vira and I said we have to make a decision. We have to act, and so we decided we needed to pack our bags and head to the border," said Loux.
The couple lives in Lviv, a city in Ukraine. It took them 24-hours just to cross into Poland.
When asked how she's feeling about the conflict, Loux translated for Vira who said:
"I was very scared because I had to make a decision very quickly. I could not say goodbye to my family and friends. Since there was a state of war, we did not know whether I would be allowed to cross the border," Vira said.
One of her only hopes was that she would be able to cross the border.
Now that Vira and Loux are in a safe space, they're watching the situation in Ukraine and are thankful to be in a secure spot. Despite that, they said that the invasion of Ukraine is unacceptable and that their hearts go out to the country and the people still there.
"We think that the best thing you can do is pray. Pray for Ukraine. Pray for its people. Pray for those that are having to take shelter. For those that are in danger, because there are many cities that have been invaded. They're experiencing bombing raids," Loux said.
He said they're in disbelief as many of the cities that they once visited on dates in the past together are now under attack.
Since the invasion has began, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have tried to evacuate the country.
Loux's organization, along with other churches in neighboring countries have partnered together to get Ukrainians across the border.
"You can stand in solidarity with Ukraine and you can say this is not acceptable," Loux said.
On the other side of the world, Chris' mother, Cindy has been messaging her son and his fiancé from Arkansas.
"Really when we communicate, I just tell them I'm praying and that's really all any of us can do at this point," Cindy said.
The couple is currently staying with friends in the Czech Republic.