Update on Ukraine
World Missions Gives Update on Ukraine
Director of Church of God World Missions, Dr. David Griffis, recently offered the following report on the denomination’s response to the crisis in Ukraine during a streamed event to Church of God ministers:
We are continually praying on behalf of our brothers and sisters in that part of the world … Ukraine, Russia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Moldova … all those nations that are on the brink of this tremendous humanitarian disaster that has taken place.
The United Nations Relief Agency expects over the next few weeks over 4,000,000 refugees to flee Ukraine and go to bordering countries and even throughout Europe. The border situation shows women and children in great numbers gathering. There are few trains and few vehicles because those can be attacked quickly. Many of them are walking under very adverse conditions. Once they arrive, it takes 20 to 48 hours to go through customs. Ukrainian males are required under the current Marshall Law that’s in effect and the fighting and the war that’s in effect from the ages of 18 to 60 to go back and fight. Many of our Ukrainian pastors have brought their families to the borders; some of them have written letters as if they would never write another letter, telling their loved ones how much they love them as they went back into their homeland during this time of the invasion.
Recently, according to the Polish Border Patrol, over 2,000,000 Ukrainian refugees have entered Poland through three different entry locations. Five hundred thousand of them have been absorbed into the very compassionate and generous homes of the people of Poland. More than 760,000 refugees have entered Romania, Hungary, and Slovakia. The Church of God in Poland, where we have 80 churches, 13 of them are Ukrainian pastored by Ukrainian pastors who have sent vans back and forth to the border and personally brought 10,000 refugees into their refugee transitional stations. The refugee centers the Church of God has set up there are feeding approximately 2,000 per day. Many of them go into homes and shelters where we’re taking care of them. We have approximately 1,000 Church of God congregations throughout this part of Europe.
We have had much concern about our orphanages in Ukraine. We have three outstanding orphanages there, and they have been served wonderfully by Serving Orphans Worldwide (SOW) and by Church of God World Missions (COGWM). The Pilgrim’s Republic Orphanage is in Mariupol, a city that has been under great attack and shelling, as well as a lot of death. That orphanage has been evacuated. The general director of this orphanage, who is a wonderful Church of God minister and very brave man, took his family to the border; he wrote his wife a loving, parting letter, and then went back into the heat of the battle in Mariupol, not just because of our orphans needing to be evacuated from our orphanage, but God impressed him that there were orphans in the street, children without parents, children separated from their parents, children in the streets and alleys, in the gutters of that city, and he went back to see how many of those he could save. He did not know if he would ever come back and see his family again, but that is the kind of dedication, the kind of compassion that we see among these wonderful Ukrainian Christians we have throughout Ukraine, especially in the Church of God, some of the most devoted people I’ve ever met, who love the Lord and have such a beautiful spirit.
We also have the Sails of Hope Orphanage in the city of Sloviansk. They have been evacuated. The Alexander Orphanage in Kirovohrad has evacuated to western Ukraine. All three orphanages are in the process of hopefully being resettled in Germany.
Cyber-attacks have become extremely common within Ukraine as well as in the surrounding nations that are trying to minister to Ukraine. There is a great shortage of food, commodities, medical supplies within Ukraine; gasoline in the neighboring nations bordering Ukraine is now up to $10 per gallon; diesel fuel is at $12 per gallon! Commodities are needed: baby clothes, personal hygiene products, bedding items, food, adult clothing … it seems there is an obvious master plan by the Russian military forces of demobilization in Ukraine because airports, train stations, power stations, communication towers, government structures, and political housing have been attacked and devastated. Many people are on foot and struggling, trying to find a place of safety.
We deeply appreciate the people of the Church of God who has given to this very, very special need. One hundred percent of what has been given we are sending to the Field Director for distribution to the various countries involved in receiving refugees. We’ve also partnered with our wonderful outreach of Operation Compassion in providing containers of commodities and goods to be shipped into Ukraine and finding ways to get those into the countries that are ministering to the needs of these people. The countries of Poland, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and Moldova are ministering to them. It is a very tragic situation, a great humanitarian crisis. It is an atmosphere of death, but in the midst of death, in the midst of crisis, we have seen compassion on a scale that I’ve not witnessed in many years—a love and compassion for our brothers and sisters in Ukraine. Again, we have wonderful churches and godly people in Russia that love the Lord and are praying for their brothers and sisters in Ukraine. Throughout eastern Europe, we have had wonderful, great leaders who have come to the forefront, the overseers in these nations, were most appreciative. I can tell you with assurance you can be so incredibly proud of the Church of God in this part of the world.
Once again, 100% of what is designated goes to Ukrainian relief, whether getting it into Ukraine or using it to create safe and caring places for immigrants.
Thank you for your prayers and understanding heart that the people involved in this crucial endeavor are moving swiftly and do not always have a way or time to keep us as informed as we might desire. Also, quick movement in acquiring commodities is needed as those supplies may be changing in their availability.
Again, thank you for your prayers and concern!