Unwavering in Ukraine: Relief To-Date Considered, Relief for Future Committed
By Carl Stagner
On Thursday, February 24, 2022, the eyes of the world were fixed on one particular region. News of war breaking out in Ukraine then raised a myriad of questions both political and pragmatic. From the perspective of the church across the globe, the most important question was how Christians could and should respond. Now pushing into its seventh month, the practical wartime response of prayer and humanitarian aid has persisted as Church of God Ministries, in partnership with the Church of God in and around Ukraine, remains committed to disaster relief. Reflecting upon the variety of ways funds have supported Ukraine relief to date, the Church of God is dedicated to ongoing relief, with recovery and restoration on the horizon.
Disaster relief in Ukraine has covered three primary areas of assistance: immediate relief, resettling refugees outside the country, and aiding internally displaced people (those choosing to remain within the country’s borders, or unable to leave or not permitted to leave). A look back at what God has accomplished through his people around the world since the Ukraine crisis began offers encouragement in the face of great difficulty.
Ahead of the morning offensive from the Russian military on February 24, Church of God Ministries wired funds to the Church of God in Ukraine for immediate emergency use. As families continued to evacuate amid the rapidly escalating situation, additional funds were sent to the field for disbursement. Church of God congregations in the United States and Canada got involved prayerfully and financially from the beginning of the crisis, donating generously to the cause of disaster relief.
Church of God Ministries, through its Global Strategy team, linked arms early in the process with the Church of God in Germany, ensuring the donations go directly to relief efforts. For generations, the Church of God in Germany has provided excellence in ministry and mission beyond their borders. Together with the German Church of God, the Church of God in the United States and Canada has been able to send aid straight to the congregations on the ground where it is needed most. The following quote, translated from German early in the response effort, offers a snapshot of the determination—backed by capability—of these partners of Church of God Ministries.
“Every day, new emergency calls come in from Ukraine—every day we expand our aid measures on the ground. Local congregations organize shelters, cookouts, and sanitation facilities for refugees and distribute food. Women and children stuck at the border are being provided with sanitary supplies, water, and food. Families and orphans from orphanages could be evacuated.”
Refugees have been, and will continue to be, a major focus of disaster relief. Since the start of the war, over 5 million people have left Ukraine, most of these women and children. For the displaced, resettlement logistics have been major hurdles, but the Church of God is doing what they can to come to their aid. Thank God for the Church of God in countries like Germany and Hungary, where refugees have found assistance in resettlement. In Germany, local churches of the Church of God, as well as a prominent Bible school, have welcomed displaced persons into their midst, providing temporary shelter, food, water, basic supplies, and loving fellowship in the face of disheartening circumstances. Disaster relief funds have helped sponsor Church of God individuals fleeing Ukraine to reach their destinations outside the country in safety. Funds have also been sent to places like Bulgaria, where supplies have brought tangible stability to the upended lives of Ukrainian refugees.
As assistance is provided to thousands of refugees, Church of God leaders who speak more than one language are offering translation, too. Administrative tasks have become numerous as the weeks pass, but capable workers are giving their time and talent to be the hands and feet of Jesus behind the scenes to accomplish the task God has given. Cross-denominational efforts are also coming to light, as partnerships required to live out the love of Jesus demonstrate kingdom unity.
Internally Displaced People
Instead of leaving the country, many Ukrainians have opted to stay. Not considered to be refugees, they nevertheless (and perhaps all the more) need assistance in the midst of crisis. The Church of God recognized the vitality of support for internally displaced people early in the response. As such, the Church of God in Hungary, for instance, continues to purchase, organize, and distribute basic goods to Ukrainian families within the war-torn country. On an almost-weekly basis, the Church of God in Hungary makes long trips into Ukraine only made possible by the funds donated to disaster relief; the van they use was purchased with Disaster Relief dollars. Starting early in the summer, these trips into Ukraine have ministered effectively to internally displaced people with visible expressions of the love of Christ.
The trips beyond the Ukrainian border certainly carry some risk, but the present route of distribution does not lie within areas prone to missile strikes. Those who transport the supplies don’t travel alone and reach the border in about four hours; an additional two hours inside Ukraine allows the transport to be complete. Air raid warning sirens can be heard in test mode, but beyond the startling nature of these emergency instruments, the trips have thus far been relatively smooth.
But most importantly, these trips have resulted in the disbursement of real help and real hope. Goods for distribution include all the basics—beans, noodles, flour, sugar, salt, coffee, “shelf milk,” soap, water, vitamins, medicines, and various hygiene products. Whenever possible, the Church of God in Hungary has also collected donations for the well-being of displaced children, including toys, summer shoes, and other clothing.
When the time comes, the Church of God stands ready to assist with recovery and restoration for the people of Ukraine. The continued giving of the Church of God makes it all possible. Thank you, Church of God, for your generosity!
If you would like to walk alongside our Ukrainian church family, donations can be made to Church of God Disaster Relief. Your gift helps provide both emergency aid to those who choose to remain in Ukraine, as well as critical assistance to those who choose to flee as refugees.
Feature (top) photo (Ukrainian flag) by Max Kukurudziak on Unsplash.