Individual Christians, whole denominations and mission organizations often get a bad rap—rightly so—for things they don’t do well, such as cringeworthy coverups of sins and the evils they commit. True, we live in this corrupt and broken world and always need to do much better.
Yet, sometimes the church and God’s people shine bright. They show the way when no one else does. They are there to help before anyone else has a clue or plan. The plight of Ukrainian refugees in Europe is the most recent of these grace-filled and Christlike amazing responses of the church.
This is but one example of God being on the move today, working through his church. As imperfect as Christians are, God’s grace through his church can be and always is the most powerful witness, light and salt to this world.
Christians unified in action
Leaders of Hope International Ministries recently witnessed this amazing response of God’s people to the horrific evils of the Russian war, genocide of Ukrainian people and the consequent uprooting of more than 10 million people—mostly women, children and elderly.
We are grateful for Texas Baptist Hunger Offering funds and Texas Baptists Executive Director David Hardage’s wholehearted support of this trip and Ukraine relief efforts.
Mission agencies, local churches, volunteers and nonprofits are working together in unity, without asking each other’s doctrinal and denominational beliefs.
In Moldova, we were told more than 70 percent of the ongoing relief efforts have been initiated by evangelical Christians.
Believers in Poland, Romania, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and throughout Europe were among the first to meet, feed and house arriving Ukrainian women and children when the war broke out.
We met leaders who cancelled anniversary getaways, vacations and all other plans in order to drive to the Ukrainian border the day after the war broke out to pick up and help arriving families.
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We heard of hotel owners reaching out to local churches, turning over their entire resorts and hotels to hundreds of arriving families.
We have seen local churches double in size, not just with arriving refugees, but with local people so impressed with the work those churches were doing in response to this crisis.
Unity for effective ministry
Whether delivering food or personal hygiene items, paying for shipping or gas, purchasing cargo minivans, renting warehouses for humanitarian aid or setting up volunteer hubs to provide food and water, help purchase tickets or find housing—we are seeing an amazing symphony of God’s people working together in community, not just preaching, but doing compassion to those in need.
In Chisinau, Moldova, Hope International Ministries has partnered with Covenant World Relief and Development to deliver pallets of food—purchased by the CRU Moldova team—to families housed in a UNICEF refugee center.
Mission Eurasia’s iCare packages and Samaritan’s Purse contributions also have been noticed in many countries and locations throughout Eastern Europe.
Local people of different denominations and churches have told us such unity and cooperation is the only way to move forward to address the needs of millions of families uprooted by the war. In the words of one of the local pastors, “We can help so many people in need only if we work together, like one church, like one body.”
After visiting Ukraine, Poland, Romania and Moldova, we can see this is precisely what is happening—God’s people working together, being light and salt just like Jesus asked us to do.
Help still needed
Is help still needed? Absolutely.
First, please continue to pray God puts an end to this war. Please pray daily.
Second, churches and families still need assistance with relief as the winter is approaching fast. Some tangible projects needed are:
• putting a roof over a destroyed house,
• replacing damaged or destroyed doors and windows in a house,
• purchasing chicks or a pig for a family to grow and have as food by winter,
• purchasing a cow for a family, or
• sending a Ukrainian child to a Christian summer camp.
To learn more about how you, your church or your organization can be salt and light in Eastern Europe through these or other projects, you can contact me—(817) 773-1097—or Hope International Ministries.
Leonid Regheta is the pastor of River of Life-Dallas Church and the chair of the Hope International Ministries board of directors, which is receiving donations to assist in humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, Romania and elsewhere in Eastern Europe.
The preceding article is adapted from Regheta’s Facebook post.
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