'Evil as it is, there is also love:' Tennessee chaplain returns from Ukraine

Joshua Darnell
Posted at 4:21 PM, May 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-02 21:30:24-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A Joelton chaplain has returned to Tennessee from volunteering with a military unit in Ukraine.

Capturing photos of hope in a war-torn Ukraine was important to Chaplain Joshua Darnell.

"So as evil as it is, there is also love," Darnell said.

He volunteered with a unit that was mixed with foreign fighters and Ukrainian soldiers.

"The reality is, in the last five days, I’ve cried every day," Darnell said, "Not only because of my love for the men in the unit but because of the pain that is still there."

An American sniper in his unit was shot, so he went to the hospital to see him. He said there's an influx of ex-military in the country helping Ukrainian forces.

"He was literally in the hospital with one of the men he trained, thankful that he had not gotten killed," Darnell said.

Darnell also played the role of moral compass.

"The longer you’re there, the more you feel justified in doing and being the evil that you’re fighting," Darnell said.

In one situation, they were debating how to handle prisoners.

"There was great discussion about that, and a couple of us men simply said, 'We’re going to do the right thing, and we’re going to tie them up and leave them, but we’re not gonna become the enemy. We’re not going to execute prisoners,'" Darnell said. "That’s the bottom line."

As he was leaving Ukraine by train, missiles hit nearby. Eventually, he made it safely across the border to Poland so he could come home to Joelton.

Heading back to Ukraine is not off the table, but he's taking it day by day. He's with the nonprofit, Agape to the Nations as a missionary.