A Missionary’s Perspective: What the News Won’t Tell You About Ukraine

A missionary on the ground answers questions about the status of Ukraine, the refugee crisis, and their needs.

Through the Ukraine Crisis Fund, ABWE workers on the Ukraine team are meeting physical needs and spreading the gospel throughout Eastern Europe. We spoke to our team leader, Brian*, who gave us an update on the status of the ministry.

Q.: What is the status of the Ukraine team overall?

Brian: Several teammates who had been in Kyiv left the country earlier this year, prior to the current conflict.

The remaining teammates, who had been based in Odessa, evacuated the first day of the war and are in a bordering country, helping with refugee ministry. Many internationals have come through on their way to Europe. There is a possibility they will have to evacuate this bordering country soon for concern of further Russian advancement.

Q.: What is the overall sense among those who are seeking refuge in the surrounding countries? Ukrainians in general and believers specifically?

Brian: I visited all five Hungarian/Ukrainian border towns last week and saw great volunteers and organizations welcoming in refugees. Ukrainian men 18-60 are not allowed to leave but rather must serve their country (in military, humanitarian, or media relations roles (control information and raise funds for military). The only refugees I saw were women and children and foreigners. Europe seems to be rather welcoming, and churches and ministries are showing love for strangers in remarkable ways—providing free transportation, food, and temporary housing to Ukrainian citizens.

Believers in western Ukraine have been receiving millions of people fleeing danger. Churches are refugee centers and bomb shelters providing refuge amid the war. Friends of mine are driving into dangerous places to help evacuate hospitals and foreign students.

Q.: How has the team been able to minister to the Ukrainians?

Brian: The team is meeting international students at the Moldovan border and transporting them to beds for a night of sleep before they move further into the country. We’re getting funds to people needing food and help with transportation to safety. We’re praying with them through Zoom church meetings because members are in multiple locations. Our workers are also praying with Muslims and Hindus before they move out to return to their home countries.

Q.: What needs has the Ukraine crisis fund met?

Brian: We’ve been able to provide mattresses for Romanian churches to help with lodging, food for a church in Kyiv that is sheltering in their basement, money for medicine for a Kyiv babushka (grandmother) who is diabetic, and purchase a van to transport refugees from the Moldovan border to the train station. Even with a $20 donation to the crisis fund, we’ve been able to provide meaningful help for those that were fleeing.

Q.: What is the most pressing current prayer request?

Brian: Please pray for the safety for the hundreds of thousands that are being evacuated from orphanages, hospitals, universities, and even prisons, across the country. Pray that the church will continue to remain a light in the darkness of war.

Earlier this week, on March 8, International Women’s Day took place. In Ukraine, this occasion is the second-biggest holiday (next to New Year’s Day). Traditionally, men give all the women in their lives flowers, candy, and presents. Imagine a combination Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day that even includes little girls. Yet this year most men are separated from their loved ones as they fight and serve the country of Ukraine in the struggle for freedom. Pray for these men and women, for family unity, and for the strength of the nation through the spread of the gospel.

*Name changed for security purposes.

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