Helping Ukrainian Refugees: A Dispatch from Poland
For years, Pioneers teams in Eastern Europe have been serving refugees streaming into that region of the world from North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. (See Photo Essay – European Refugee Crisis, 2015.)
On February 24, 2022, Russia began an invasion of Ukraine. Now the war in Ukraine is bringing a fresh wave of displaced people in need of care. By the end of the day Sunday, March 6, Poland received its 1 millionth refugee from Ukraine, and more than half a million had arrived in other countries. Since then the numbers have grown and continue to rise.
As you pray for Ukraine, we’d invite you to pray for Pioneers teams in Eastern Europe as they partner with local believers and respond with immediate assistance to those attempting to rebuild their lives—both with physical relief and spiritual encouragement.
Here’s a snapshot.
- Jim serves with Pioneers and works closely with the Ukrainian Baptist Union. He evacuated to Poland in January, expecting to return within weeks. Instead, he’s putting in long days supporting the work of the Ukrainian Baptist Church in Warsaw. Their response teams have been receiving and housing well over 100 people each day as well as sending resources back into Ukraine.
- A large relief convoy was sent to rescue hundreds of Ukrainians from the Kyiv area, evacuating them to safer areas. At times their route was blocked by active fighting and sniper fire, says Jim, and many roads and bridges were impassable. But the convoy made it out and rescued many.
- Jim has been through things like this before. He knows first-hand about the long-term wounds trauma can bring. So he’s also providing help for Ukrainians suffering from post-traumatic stress. Please pray for these efforts, and especially for the many mothers with young children trying to make sense of what has happened to them.
- Jim’s wife Ruth says, “We’re seeing people being very heroic. Even in their grief. They’re running back in and trying to help. It’s a tremendous outflowing of love we’re seeing in people’s lives.”
Polish churches are mobilizing.
In some parts of the world, focusing on the unreached means going where there are no churches. But in places like Poland and Ukraine, missionaries are able to serve through and with local churches. A Pioneer named Craig, also in Poland, told us about an impromptu meeting that followed a Sunday service after the war broke out:
“I continue to be amazed at the sacrificial giving of the Polish people.”
“No one left the room before the meeting as we talked about what our team and others from our church have done and what we may be called to do. We explained that we are expecting to see an increase in the number of people who will need temporary housing and that as a church we will begin with our home and those of others who have volunteered and then set up beds in our church if we have more than we can house. We also asked them to pass on any information about people in need who we can help.
“At the end of the meeting we passed around a signup sheet or people to write down their contact info and what they believe they can do to help. Probably everyone in the room signed it and offered to help in one way or another. I continue to be amazed at the sacrificial giving of the Polish people.”
What will God do through this?
As we step back and take the long view on this crisis, we’re reminded that our God rescues, comforts and redeems people in even the darkest situations. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the country of Ukraine saw many people begin to follow Jesus. Flourishing Ukrainian churches have been planted both inside the country and beyond its borders. Ukraine has become a big sending country and has sent missionaries out across the region and to other places. How might God use the Ukrainian Church, Ukrainian missionaries and this new wave of scattered Ukrainians for His purposes?
Ruth puts it this way:
“What Satan intended for evil—death and dying and destruction—we know that God can raise up out of the ashes new life. He can take His kingdom to the ends of the earth. That’s how I want people to pray. That He will bring beauty out of the ashes and take His gospel to the ends of the earth.”
- Pray for a peaceful resolution to this war and that the lives of many in danger would be spared.
- Pray for communities, families and churches across Europe and beyond as they welcome and serve Ukrainians fleeing their country. Ask God to sustain them and use them for His glory.
- Diverse groups of missionaries, aid workers and churches are working together closely to respond to the needs that arise. Pray that these partnerships continue, grow and bear fruit.
- Ask God to reveal Himself to all who are seeking Him during this time of crisis and draw them near to Himself.
Podcast Interviews: Ukraine Response
Pioneers leaders in Europe have a website and podcast where they share about needs and opportunities across the region, and recently they posted interviews with several families now deeply engaged with serving the new Ukrainian refugees. Will you listen in and pray for them?
- The War in Ukraine, Trauma, Courage and the Witness of the Church
You can also read updates members of one team are posting on Facebook.
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