Baker Publishing’s Chosen Books imprint's Hope for Ukraine: Stories of Grit and Grace from the Front Lines of War is the first religion book on the Russia-Ukraine conflict to be released to the trade since Russia’s invasion began in February. Print publication was originally slated for November 8, but the date was moved up based on production availability, and the book released simultaneously in print and digital formats on September 6 with an initial print run of 10,000 copies.
The authors are Kyle Duncan, a writer, and Esther Fedorkevich, founder of The Fedd Agency, a literary and entertainment agency based in Austin, Tex., who worked together to collect stories and first-hand accounts of events that have taken place along the Ukraine-Poland border as recently as May 2022. Among the storytellers are Ukrainians who remain in the country, soldiers, aid workers, volunteers, and refugees. Duncan conducted some of the interviews in-person while in Poland and western Ukraine for three weeks in late March and early April.
“Our goal was simple: Tell the stories of real Ukrainians living through the largest and most devastating war in Europe in eight decades,” Duncan writes in the book.
Kim Bangs, editorial director at Chosen, says Hope for Ukraine aligns with her goal to publish books that “speak to immediate, and what could seem, hopeless situations.” She adds that a religious perspective of the conflict offers an especially important message to believers.
“I believe we all like to be, and need to be, reminded of the story of David and Goliath,” Bangs says. “In my humble opinion, that’s what we are seeing play out in Ukraine. The impossibility of standing against a major world power and fighting for what the Ukrainians know is their right, as heartbreaking as the situation is, is hope-inspiring as well.”
While not every story in the book features a faith element, Hope for Ukraine focuses on real individuals and the hardships they face due to the war. “These are stories of human beings forced from their homes, yet standing against the wrong,” Bangs says. “Stories that include miracles, hope, and information on how we can help from the comfort of our peaceful homes.”
Duncan and Fedorkevich have a long history of working together, and combined, they have over 50 years of experience in the Christian publishing industry. Both authors have strong personal connections to Ukraine as well: Duncan is the parent of a child adopted from the country, and Fedorkevich is a first-generation Ukrainian immigrant. Her husband, Jimmy, is also Ukrainian-American.
“In addition to sharing their personal disbeliefs and concerns when the war against Ukraine began on February 24, their individual backgrounds with Ukraine drove their passion to do something that would bring light to the situation,” Bangs says.
Marketing for Hope for Ukraine includes ads on Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Instagram, on Chosen’s website, and via email blasts, alongside author interviews on sponsored podcasts.