BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was in the U.K. for a surprise European tour – asking for fighter jets and continued support in its fight against Russian invaders.

Zelenskyy then flew to Paris to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz, as Ukraine braces for an unexpected Russian offensive

The pleads for aid are even extending to our nation, with the President of the Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary in Kyiv visiting churches across the United States. One visit including a stop right here in Birmingham to thank everyone for their continued, global support so they can keep fighting for freedom.

Packing out the hall at South Highland Presbyterian, members of the church gather to hear Rev. Dr. Ivan Rusyn’s message on Wednesday.

“In Ukraine, we have full-scale wild war,” Rusyn said. “Going back to Ukraine is like going back to a war zone.”

It’s a war zone that Rusyn continues to serve because Kyiv is his home.

“We realized we could fight, and we will fight because we realize there is no room for the Ukrainian identity in the Russian world. For us it’s clear – to fight or to die,” Rusyn said. “Our message to the Russian Federation is leave us alone. Just leave us alone. But our cry to the civilized world – please do not leave us alone. We need support from the global society, civilized world in order to protect our identity, our freedom of democracy from the Russian Democracy.”

Rusyn expressed his debt of gratitude to this Birmingham church – that collected more donations to provide food, water and medicine to Ukraine.

South Highland Presbyterian Associate Pastor Cort Gatliff said they learned Rusyn would be traveling across America before going home next week.

“He’s someone we really have been praying for and getting a chance to hear about that from him is really exciting,” Gatliff said. “We jumped at the opportunity to have him here to really give us a picture of what’s happening on the ground in Ukraine right now.”

The fight is not over yet for the country. Rusyn said he is grateful to the church which continues to help and people like Alabama natives Alex Drueke and Andy Huynh who helped them fight for freedom overseas.

“They are my heroes,” Rusyn said. “Even my Ukrainian is poor to explain how I appreciate. On behalf of the Ukrainian nation, I want to say thank you very much.”