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“Though the needs everywhere are just extraordinary, God’s people here are responding in generous and loving compassionate ways”.

Adrian Gardner, Director of Canadian Partnerships

Ukraine Crisis

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Updates from Baptists in Ukraine

As we have shared over the past seven months, Ukrainian Baptists have been living in the middle space between deep grief and thanksgiving during these challenging times.

They grieve the loss of 46 damaged or destroyed church buildings and the 200 scattered congregations that are no longer meeting with no certainty that they will ever meet again. They grieve the fact that 120 pastors and deacons have been called into military service, leaving churches without leaders. These men are some of the 250 total pastors and leaders who have had to leave their churches. They grieve the pain that the 400 churches in occupied territories or recently liberated areas feel on a daily basis.

They grieve the recent loss of a pastor killed in the Kharkiv region. They grieve the church in the Zaporizhzhya region that was shut down as Russian soldiers stormed into an evening service and collected all of the congregation’s information. They worry for the lives of a pastor and his wife who were kidnapped on September 21 in Mariupol; sadly representing a pattern of suppression of religious freedom that Baptists have been regularly facing since the annexation of Crimea in 2014. They grieve the loss of stability and certainty that their country is safe.

Yet, by God’s grace, Ukrainian Baptists express deep gratitude for God’s continued work in Ukraine.

They celebrate the four new recently ordained pastors in Chernivtsi and Polyvanivka. They celebrate the retreats that were able to occur over the summer– over 300 camps for children from occupied or liberated territories occurred with up to 39,000 children, teenagers, and young people participating. Numerous retreats for missionaries, pastors, and couples occurred including one with over 100 volunteers who have been serving constantly since the war began.

They are grateful for the ways they have been able to serve thousands of people with food, water, energy, transportation to safety, and pastoral care, but they are most grateful for the opportunities that the aid brought.

Thousands of people have come to Christ through the witness of Ukrainian Baptists. 2,300 baptisms have happened over the last three months with 15,000 starting to visit churches. Hundreds of youth made professions to Christ over the summer at camps and one church in Nikopol had to hold an evangelistic event three times on a single Sunday in September because 600 people showed up to the church that could only hold 200.

In the midst of suffering, God is at work.

Across the country and in the neighbouring countries, the looming question is how to heat homes and churches to continue caring for displaced peoples. As winter approaches, Baptists in the west of Ukraine are preparing to welcome an expected wave of up to 500,000 people from the east who have no way to heat their homes during the winter time or whose homes have been damaged. Many may spill out into the neighbouring countries as well where Baptists are preparing to welcome new displaced peoples.

In total, Baptists in Ukraine and the neighbouring countries have served an estimated 500,000 people over the past seven months in comparison with the roughly 250,000 Baptists in the whole area. Though fewer refugees are coming across the border now, increasingly the ones staying in Baptist care have higher needs and have no other long-term solution of where to go. Many Baptists did not expect to be so involved for so long, but as leaders in Moldova commented recently, “we learn to trust in God, to depend on Him, to be perseverant, to love Him and the people in spite of all the challenges and threats.”

On-going Prayer needs:

  • Praising God’s continued provision for those faithfully serving on the front lines of the war.

  • Praising God for those who have encountered Jesus in the past months through the witness of Baptists in and around Ukraine.

  • Pray for those who continue to try and live their lives despite the constant uncertainty of where and when missiles will strike.

  • Pray for continued sacrificial giving and service from around the world so there are enough resources for those in Ukraine and the neighbouring countries to serve through the difficult winter.

  • Pray that a just peace will come soon and Ukraine can continue to rebuild.

  • Pray for those around the world who will feel the strain of supply chain interruptions and energy shortages during the cold months.

The summer heat wave that has raged across Europe only exacerbated the hardship of those in Ukraine. There are limited water supplies in conflict areas, and many people must wait long hours in the heat to cross borders.

In the east, shells continue to fall as Russia has redoubled efforts on the eastern and southern fronts. Churches in these areas continue to act as beacons of hope, providing energy, food, and water to those in need where resources are extremely limited.

In areas recaptured by Ukraine, some people have returned to survey the damage to their cities and homes. Those returning are unsure whether they will find a few broken windows or a pile of rubble. Some churches are already seeking temporary repair supplies to fix buildings, but much more will be needed, even just for temporary repairs before winter comes.

In the west, where there is a relatively small threat of missile strikes, some churches are running nearly normally. In Rivne, the Kostopil church ran a kid’s camp with more than 450 kids ages 5 to 16-years-old. This included displaced children from Kharkiv, Kyiv, Buchi, Irpen, Izum, Luhansk, Donetsk, Kramatorsk and more. It was a time of respite where the children could have fun and forget about the hardships they face every day. Also, an integral part of the camp was chatting with parents who could share their pain, reflect on God’s Word and unwind with a cup of coffee and snacks in a pleasant atmosphere.

Churches continue to celebrate baptisms every week. In Kharkiv, seven new members were baptized. This is the third baptism event for new believers in a church that is only one and a half years old.

While many churches continue to give out food aid, one church, the Evangelical Baptist Brotherhood Church stands out. During three months of cooperation with the UN World Food Programme, the church distributed 2,709 tonnes of food to the local population. This is in addition to the 4,486 tonnes of food and other aid they distributed through the support of the Ukrainian Baptist Union.

Projects continue in neighbouring countries as well. While some Ukrainians have returned to the country and others have moved further into Europe, many Ukrainians are becoming integrated into their new communities. Ukrainians have been incorporated into church services and summer activities. Baptist churches continue to house, feed, and help displaced Ukrainian people with registration paperwork as well as providing psycho-social support. Local churches and unions continue to respond in these ever-changing contexts.

In Romania, our partner All4Aid recently renovated the loft space in one of their refugee homes. The team converted the space into an apartment so that more Ukrainian guests can stay.

In July, the loft apartment was completed. A special part of the remodelling process was that All4Aid received feedback from their guests throughout the process. For example, the double beds were purchased and placed at the request of many moms whose children were too frightened to sleep alone.

All4Aid’s three houses in Bucharest for Ukrainian displaced people have been up and running for a few months now. Altogether they have capacity for 89 guests. Following their model of excellence, these houses were set up to go above and beyond minimum humanitarian standards and look like normal houses, offering safe and comfortable living space for their guests.

House of Grace (a former church parsonage) was the first house opened in March 2022. All4Aid has recently built an additional floor in that house to accommodate even more people! House of Peace (an adapted ground floor space) is normally used for those who are in transit to another EU country and need a place to stay for a few nights. House of Hope (a former Kindergarten building) is a larger, more permanent accommodation. There are a number of Ukrainian mothers with young children living there at the moment.

Following their model of working with displaced people and not only for them, All4Aid’s Ukrainian guests participate in the work being done; for instance, they are helping to decorate and clean the houses. Although the cost of groceries is covered, guests are also the ones who each week create the grocery shopping list, help do the shopping, and bring it to their houses. They also organize themselves to do the cooking.

Along with managing the housing programme, the All4Aid team also drives into Ukraine on a weekly basis taking around 6.000 EUR worth of food. They have made an agreement with a wholesaler who takes their list of food items, organizes everything in pallets, and even helps load the food into their vehicles. The team then drives the food into Ukraine, a trip that involves a long drive, a ferry crossing, going through customs, and normally takes 24 hours to be completed. The food is brought directly to our partners: three local churches in Southern Ukraine which use their buildings as storehouses to feed the community around them.

Situation Overview

  • The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reports 9,983 civilian casualties in the country: 4,452 killed and 5,531 injured, as of 14 June. OHCHR believes that the actual figures are likely to be much higher, as data from the worst-hit areas are still being verified.

  • According to the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) as of June 14, more than 7.5 million people have fled Ukraine; the vast majority of these are women, children and the elderly. This doesn’t include the additional 7 million displaced people within Ukraine. Over 5 million refugees from Ukraine have been recorded across Europe. This has pushed global statistics of displaced people over the grim 100 million mark.

Updates from Baptists in Ukraine

  • The Ukrainian Baptist Union Coordination Centre continues to distribute aid across Ukraine, despite missiles falling in the areas surrounding Lviv. In a May 21 report, the staff wrote, “The nature of the multi-faceted ministry of our churches today resembles the work of emergency service. The Baptist Union is trying to respond to challenges that are constantly changing. We are focused on the practical manifestation of Christ’s love and the effectiveness of the Gospel.”

  • In Russian-occupied areas, the reports are difficult. The civilian population is terrorised and often deprived of the opportunity to leave for the Ukrainian-controlled territories. As water supply lines have been cut off in numerous towns across occupied and besieged areas, churches are stepping in and drawing from church wells to distribute water to their communities. In Mykolayiv, the local church is beginning to drill a new well to provide for the community.

  • Lysychansk, a small town in the Luhansk Oblast of Ukraine, is one example of the many communities isolated by the war where there is no electricity, water, communications, medicines, or food. Regional pastors are trying to keep in contact with churches in such communities and visit when possible to ensure they are not forgotten and feel abandoned.

  • Dozens of churches have held baptism services over the past weeks and the war has not quelled the evangelical fervour of Baptists in Ukraine. Many are beginning to see their communities shift their view of local churches, especially as churches tirelessly provide aid and practical support. A church hosted a first aid training course and noted, “People are beginning to see more and more that Christians are not freaks united by a certain fanatical idea, but it is truly people who practise the things they teach.”

  • At least two more churches have been destroyed by shelling.

Baptist Response in Neighbouring Countries

  • Poland — Polish Baptists are adjusting to the challenges and joys that come with so many guests still remaining. Three new Ukrainian churches have been planted and the largest Baptist church in Poland is now a Ukrainian congregation in Warsaw. Baptists continue to host hundreds, serve thousands and send aid back to Ukraine.

  • Hungary — Baptists in Hungary in conjunction with the Hungarian Baptist Aid are continuing to address aid needs in Ukraine (already delivering 200 metric tonnes) while simultaneously addressing the needs of refugees in Hungary. Already they see the challenges of the impending global food shortage as a result of the war. Many churches run Ukrainian translation during their services and a few new Ukrainian churches have formed.

  • Romania — Churches across Romania continue to provide practical and spiritual support to refugees, as well as send humanitarian supplies into Ukraine. Dozens are now running their normal services with dual translation into Ukrainian. Churches are incorporating refugees and their children into normal life, celebrating the 17th birthday of one Ukrainian teen and using leisure activities, like afternoons at a local pool, as an opportunity to connect with families and let them rest. Many refugees are looking to move onward from Romania to other countries.

  • Moldova — Baptists in Moldova continue to run a shelter for refugees in need. Supply chain issues and limited supplies because of the war make getting materials difficult, like bedding for the centre and a reliable vehicle to transfer materials and refugees from one place to another.

  • Slovakia — Many refugees have decided to cross back into the western regions of Ukraine, but at least 75,000 remain in Slovakia. Baptists are looking at the ways to best care for the traumatized and meet the psychological needs of single parents with kids who are displaced from their homes.

Situation Overview

  • The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reports 7,814 civilian casualties, including 3,752 killed, as of 17 May. OHCHR believes that the actual figures are likely to be much higher, as data from the worst-hit areas are still being verified.

  • According to the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR), more than 6.2 million people have fled Ukraine; the vast majority of these are women, children and the elderly. There are more than 3.3 million refugees in Poland alone, along with more than 924,000 in Romania, more than 610,000 in Hungary and more than 464,000 in Moldova.

Updates from Baptists in Ukraine

    • The Ukrainian Baptist Union Coordination Centre continues to distribute aid across Ukraine. To date, they have sent out at least 320 vehicles filled with humanitarian supplies from their warehouse in Lviv. Churches inside Ukraine press on with delivering food, medicine and other necessities to those in need, some of whom are still sheltering in basements.

    • The Donetsk and Luhansk regions still experiencing heavy shelling. Local churches continue to provide aid and are helping to evacuate those wishing to leave. The communications network in Luhansk has been destroyed, and the city of Lysychansk has no electricity or water supply.

    • On Easter Day, church services were held across Ukraine, with many non-Christians attending. In the Chernihiv region alone, 25 people gave their life to Jesus during the Easter celebrations. However, in the Luhansk region, only one church was able to gather for Easter worship because of heavy shelling.

    • Irpin Bible Church is housing a team of up to 70 volunteers. They spend their days repairing damaged homes, delivering hot food to the armed forces, and welcoming people into the church to wash their clothes, charge their phones and collect basic necessities such as food and clothing. Pastors and deacons are on hand to provide pastoral care.

    • As well as responding to the needs created by the conflict, congregations such as the Church of the Resurrection in the Odessa region are continuing with their normal pre-war ministries. This includes providing practical support to blind people and running rehabilitation centres for people struggling with drug addiction.

Baptist Response in Neighbouring Countries

  • Slovakia — Baptists in Slovakia have recently sent a second truckload of humanitarian aid into Ukraine. They are also helping to buy food for Ukrainian refugees within Slovakia, although numbers requiring this support are tailing off slightly. Churches continue to provide a warm welcome and are seeing growth: before the war, a Ukrainian church plant in Bratislava had a congregation of 50 people; now it has closer to 150. The Slovak Baptist Union has recently obtained 5,000 Ukrainian children’s Bibles, which they plan to distribute free of charge. They are financially supporting a Christian nursery for Ukrainian children in Bratislava. Churches continue to provide accommodation, help with doctor visits, job placement assistance, and help registering children in local schools. One congregation in Ružomberok is running a playgroup for Ukrainian children and providing Slovak lessons and art therapy for adults.

  • Romania — Churches across Romania continue to provide practical and spiritual support to refugees, as well as sending humanitarian supplies into Ukraine. Mănăștur Baptist Church in northwest Romania is just one example. Since the start of the war, the congregation has helped more than 300 refugees. They are providing accommodation, food, transportation, legal advice, medical supplies, job-seeking support, groups for children and a weekly Ukrainian community meeting. A Russian-speaking Christian therapist is offering emotional and spiritual support. One refugee passing through en route to Italy said, “I never experienced so much love in all my life. We want to be part of such a church, so please help us find one like yours in Italy”. Among the refugees are two Ukrainian pastors, one evangelist and three Sunday school teachers. They are actively contributing to church services and are reaching out to other Ukrainians in the area.

  • Russia — Russian Baptists continue to respond to refugees who have come into Russia, providing for their physical needs. Meanwhile, many Russians, especially young people, are fleeing Russia. One of the Baptist unions in Serbia has begun to receive Russians who have left.

Situation Overview

  • The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reports 5,121 civilian casualties, including 2,224 killed, as of 20 April. OHCHR believes that the actual figures are likely to be much higher, as data from the worst-hit areas are still being verified.

  • According to the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR), more than 5 million people have fled Ukraine; the vast majority of these are women, children and the elderly. There are more than 2.8 million refugees in Poland alone, along with more than 763,000 in Romania, more than 476,000 in Hungary and more than 428,000 in Moldova.

  • Russian forces have now withdrawn from northern Ukraine and are focusing on a massive offensive in the eastern Donbas region.

Updates from Baptists in Ukraine

  • The escalation of the conflict in eastern Ukraine has made it more difficult to evacuate local people. Baptist volunteers have been risking their lives trying to take humanitarian aid into the region and bring people to safety. Christians from Cherkasy have recently helped 90 people to evacuate, but fear this may be their last trip for some weeks.

  • Ukrainian forces have retaken control of the north-eastern Sumy region, and daily life is slowly resuming. Dozens of volunteer teams from across Ukraine have been bringing aid into the region. Almost all the churches in the area have restarted their Sunday services.

  • The Chernihiv region has also been liberated from Russian forces, though many homes have been destroyed and there is still a threat of rocket fire. Churches are beginning to resume their services. “People here are in great need, both physical and spiritual,” says Volodymyr Vysotsky, head of the Chernihiv Baptist Association.

  • A church in the city of Irpin was badly damaged in a bombing raid as the occupying forces left. The congregation had bought the building a year before and had spent eight months converting it. Although this is a blow for them, the pastor remains optimistic. “We believe that the Lord will give us the opportunity to rebuild the church building and make it even more convenient to serve the Lord,” he says. “But most importantly, we pray for our people in Irpin and try to serve them, so that they will see that in the most difficult times, the Lord is near.”

  • The team of volunteers from Irpin Bible Church did not leave the city even while the war raged. Now that the Russian troops have left, they are working intensively in Irpin and nearby Bucha, delivering food to survivors and helping with the clean-up operation. They are even assisting sappers in the dangerous task of de-mining the area. The Coordination Centre of the Ukrainian Baptists asks for prayers for their strength and safety.

Baptist Response in Neighbouring Countries

  • Baptists continue to provide food, clothing, medicine, transport and pastoral care to people forced from their homes. The number of refugees entering neighbouring countries has significantly decreased since the first few weeks of the war. However, as Russia begins its re-asserted attacks in the east of Ukraine, the most desperate who were not able to flee earlier will be pushed out. Likely the second wave of refugees, many with significantly fewer resources than some of those fleeing earlier, will come further west and into neighbouring countries.

  • Slovakia — Churches across Slovakia faithfully continue to offer hospitality to Ukrainian refugees. The Slovak Baptist Union is contributing more than €1,300 each day towards refugees’ food needs. A number of churches have launched services in Ukrainian, and the Union has arranged for Christian resources in Ukrainian to be printed and distributed. The Baptist church in Košice has experienced the largest influx of refugees, but recently the flow of new arrivals has slowed. This has allowed the church to shift its focus to delivering humanitarian aid to Ukraine, where believers distribute it to people in the worst-hit areas.

  • Czechia — To date, the Czech Republic’s Baptist Union has raised approximately €44,300 for their Ukraine crisis fund. They have divided this into three parts: a donation to the Ukrainian Baptist Union for humanitarian aid in the country; help for churches and individuals they have direct contact with within Ukraine; and support for refugees who have arrived in Czechia. Within Ukraine, these funds have been used for food, hygiene, transport, medicines and medical equipment, and larger purchases such as a generator for a city church. Churches in the Czech Republic are providing refugees with food, accommodation and help with obtaining the documents they need. The Baptist Union has produced Christian literature in Ukrainian, including a translation of the New Testament. They are also supporting a mission worker among refugees in the city of Brno.

Situation Overview

  • The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reports 3,090 civilian casualties, including 1,189 killed, as of 29 March.

  • The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that almost 10.5 million people have been forcibly displaced within Ukraine and neighbouring countries since 24 February. According to the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR), more than 4.05 million people have fled Ukraine; the vast majority of these are women, children and the elderly. There are more than 2.3 million refugees in Poland alone, along with more than 616,000 in Romania, more than 388,000 in Moldova and more than 368,000 in Hungary.

Updates from Baptists in Ukraine

  • For several days, the city of Chernihiv in northern Ukraine has been cut off from the rest of the country. On March 23, Russian troops bombed a bridge in the city that was an important humanitarian corridor. Access to aid is difficult and it is impossible to leave the city. However, local Christians are finding alternative means of transport, such as boats, to take food into Chernihiv.

  • The city of Mariupol continues to experience a humanitarian catastrophe, with constant shelling and blocks to humanitarian aid. According to the city’s mayor, there are more than 100,000 civilians waiting to be evacuated. Bethany Baptist Church in the city was recently bombed.

  • Despite the brutal conflict, believers in Ukraine continue to meet together to pray, worship and read the Bible. Churches across the country are working together to provide accommodation, food, clothing, medicine and transport.

  • The shelves of most shops and supermarkets in Sumy, north-eastern Ukraine, are now empty. However, churches in other areas of Ukraine and abroad are sending food into the city every day, and local Christians help distribute it to those in need.

  • Baptist churches in the Cherkasy region are delivering food to badly hit areas. On the way back, drivers take people out of the war zone, and a team of volunteers help them to travel to other European countries.

  • A youth leader and evangelist from a church in Mykolaiv have started a ministry to local soldiers. Every morning he takes tea and small gifts to encourage troops at 15 checkpoints. The soldiers willingly agreed for him to pray with them and asked him to continue his visits.

  • There are currently 18,000 displaced children in the Chernivtsi region. Children from local Christian families are donating their toys to help them settle into their new surroundings.

  • One church in Rivne, western Ukraine, is finding multiple creative ways to serve those in need. One very practical ministry they have developed is a free car repair service. And they provide pastoral care to those they are supporting. The church’s pastor says, “People are open to the Word of God.”

  • The Coordination Centre of the Ukrainian Baptists says, “Such stories of pastors encourage [us] not to slow down in our common ministry. Their testimonies on the phone [are given] in a lively, cheerful voice, full of enthusiasm.”

Baptist Response in Neighbouring Countries

  • Across the Region — Baptists have the capacity to serve up to 51,000 beds per day for those who have been displaced because of the conflict. In addition to 45,000 beds per day in Ukraine itself, there are an estimated 4,000 beds available for Ukrainian refugees in Romania; 1,600 beds in Poland; and 700 beds in Moldova. Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and Moldova all continue to respond to the crisis on an incredible scale, providing food, clothing, medicine and transport.

  • Hungary — Hungarian Baptists continue to serve those who are displaced including Roma people who fled Ukraine. Many churches and other organizations turned Roma people away as they fled the border, but the Hungarian Baptists are serving those in need, regardless of background.

  • Romania — The Ruth Refugee Centre in Bucharest continues to offer Ukrainians safe, welcoming accommodation and help with their next steps. The organizers write, “When the Ruth Refugee Centre was established nearly a month ago, the vision was to provide a safe place for guests from Ukraine to sleep, launder their clothing, eat three meals a day, and receive support in resolving various problems with their embassy in Bucharest. After hosting guests for two weeks, it became apparent that for some families a quick transit was not an option. Over the past week and a half, the two apartments in the Ruth School have been renovated and furnished to host two or three families for longer periods of time. With these new facilities, our Ruth Refugee Centre can now host up to 65 guests per night!”

  • Across the EBF — Baptists in Spain, Portugal, the UK, Germany, Austria, Czechia, Bulgaria, Italy and many other contexts have given generously and are housing refugees with church families.

Situation Overview

  • The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reports at least 2,571 civilian casualties, including 977 killed, as of 22 March. However, the actual figures are probably much higher, as there is limited access to verify them in the worst-hit areas.

  • The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reports that more than 3.6 million people have fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries since 24 February. The vast majority of these people are women, children and the elderly. This figure includes more than 2.1 million refugees in Poland alone, along with more than 563,000 in Romania, more than 374,000 in Moldova and more than 330,000 in Hungary.

  • The BBC reported that there had been a missile strike outside of Lviv that has many concerned of conflict encroaching westward. The Ukrainian Baptist Union is currently based in Lviv.

  • The Conference of European Churches (CEC) issued a statement urging the international community to do “everything in their power to end the current war that is destroying lives and causing untold suffering.”

  • The European Freedom Network has reported that human trafficking is a huge concern at the borders with some cases of traffickers posing as pastors.

Updates from Baptists in Ukraine

  • The conflict continues to be most brutal in eastern Ukraine, where constant shelling has destroyed vast amounts of infrastructure. Many believers are driving regularly to Kharkiv, taking aid in and bringing back people fleeing the bombing.

  • Almost all of the Kherson region is under temporary Russian occupation; it is impossible to leave. Local churches continue to meet for worship and prayer, and to organize help for as many people as possible. They are providing meals, distributing bread and finding homes for those injured. Believers from one church are taking care of children from the regional orphanage.

  • Several towns in the Donetsk region are also under temporary occupation. The port city of Mariupol is under constant siege, and conditions are dire. Baptist ministers in this region are delivering humanitarian aid and using any possible opportunity to help people escape. Believers in one city are baking and distributing bread, helping to save people from starvation. Christians report that “people are searching for God in times of trouble.”

  • A number of towns in the Sumy region remain under occupation and have been heavily bombed. Churches are providing shelter during air raids, and in quieter times their members are visiting those who are elderly or ill. Christians have helped several hundred residents to evacuate.

  • Hundreds of churches across Ukraine are serving as centres of welcome and refuge for those fleeing. In the Cherkasy region, more than a thousand displaced people are housed safely in church buildings every night. In Lviv, one local church held a baby shower for three mothers-to-be who had fled the fighting, bringing hope in the midst of suffering.

Baptist Response in Neighbouring Countries

  • Romania — Churches and believers across the country are providing accommodation and a warm welcome for people fleeing Ukraine. They are working with local authorities to help long-term refugees find work, arrange schooling and integrate into society. Christians in Bucharest have set up the Ruth Refugee Centre, which has provided 106 Ukrainians with a safe place to sleep since the start of March. The centre has a fully equipped kitchen, a cafeteria, laundry facilities, a room for children’s activities, and access to computers so refugees can prepare their paperwork. Volunteers are on hand to provide whatever support is needed. One refugee commented, “I have never met people like you in my life.”

  • Other Neighbouring Countries — Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Moldova all continue to respond to the crisis on an incredible scale, housing refugees, transporting those in need and giving out food, clothing and medicine.

  • Croatia — Although the country does not share a border with Ukraine, the Baptist Union in Croatia has organized two shipments of aid to Ukraine and provided transport for refugees wishing to come to Croatia. They have set up three transit centres for refugees, and a number of believers have offered beds in their homes to those fleeing.

  • Lithuania — The Baptist Union in Lithuania is organizing a financial gift from its churches for EBF’s work in Ukraine. Some refugees have already arrived in the country, and more are expected. Lithuanian Baptists are exploring with local authorities how best to support them.

CBM has approved sending additional funds to Ukraine as well as to Moldova. Here’s an update on the project activities:

Moldova: Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe and the refugee crisis has had a huge impact on its economy. Still, Moldavians came together to respond to the needs of Ukrainian refugees. The Moldova Baptist Union is receiving refugees from Ukraine and responding in numerous ways. They are providing emergency shelter for 1,600 refugees in churches and Baptist camps. These shelters provide space to sleep, meals, and personal hygiene supplies. The Moldova Baptist Union is also providing care at a medical clinic and offering transportation to those who wish to travel onwards from Moldova to another destination.

Ukraine: The Ukrainian Baptist Union is currently operating about 600 emergency shelters in Baptist churches all across the country. These shelters are spaces for internally displaced persons to stay for a few hours or a couple of nights before moving on to another part of the country, or out of Ukraine entirely. The shelters provide food, a place to sleep, and personal hygiene supplies. Some shelters are also able to offer access to showers as well as clothing and other basic necessities. As food access within Ukraine becomes increasingly difficult, the Baptist Union has established channels for transporting food into Ukraine and eligible people out of Ukraine. A logistical centre has been established and includes a warehouse for storing goods and food before transporting it to shelters around the country.

It’s exciting to see progress being made on the “House of Hope” south of Bucharest which will house up to 40 Ukrainian refugees long term. The mayor of the municipality has generously offered a local kindergarten for this use. In return, All4Aid will complete the renovation work and leave a legacy for improved education in the community going forward. A team of volunteers from Canada will help with this by laying floors and other work to get it ready to welcome people. Adrian Gardner, Director of Canadian Partnerships, says “It is inspiring to see innovative partnerships such as this as people offer what they have to meet the needs of people in need in Jesus’ name.”

March 16, 7:30 PM ET.

Construction began yesterday for another House of Peace refugee home. This commercial space has been donated by a local developer. The relief efforts of feeding and housing refugees continue in Romania and the countries surrounding Ukraine. Please continue to pray for peace. Adrian says “Though the needs everywhere are just extraordinary, God’s people here are responding in generous and loving compassionate ways”.

March 15, 2:30 PM ET.

Adrian Gardner, Director of Canadian Partnerships is now in Romania visiting our local church partners on the ground. They are responding to some of the immediate needs of the Ukrainian Refugees in their community. He met with Pastor Nixon at “House of Grace” which has been set up by one of the local churches. Tomorrow they will be receiving their first refugee arrivals.

More Updates:

AN UPDATE FROM OUR PARTNERS, THE EUROPEAN BAPTIST FEDERATION:
  • The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reports at least 1,506 civilian casualties, including 549 killed as of 9 March.
  • OHCHR believes that the actual figures are considerably higher, especially in the government-controlled territory and especially in recent days, as the receipt of information from some locations where intense hostilities have been going on has been delayed and many reports are still pending corroboration.

  • The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reports that more than 2.5 million people have fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries over the past 14 days, including more than 1.5 million people in Poland alone, along with over 225,000 in Hungary, nearly 176,000 in Slovakia and more than 84,000 in Romania.
The Baptist Response in Ukraine
  • In the port city of Mariupol, the Coordination Centre of the Ukrainian Baptists reports that 300 hundred people are taking shelter in the basement of Mariupol central church, with another 300 people in another city-centre church.

  • From Mariupol, one Baptist writes, “There are terrible ruins in our city, factories are on fire, stores are closed. Russian forces are destroying houses, apartment buildings and complexes, there are lots of tanks, they are ruining everything. You can’t get out of the city, they surrounded it with tanks. Many people lost their loved ones and relatives. There is no connection, no roads, the disaster is everywhere…”
  • In Lviv, Baptist volunteers have been helping to erect two mobile hospitals, where local Baptist pastors will be providing spiritual and psychological support to patients and staff, as well as offering training to others to provide such support.

  • Churches in every region are running as centres of refuge, serving those in transit as well as with overnight care. More than 600 churches are actively responding to the needs inside of those fleeing, including one small church in Yaltushkiv that feeds nearly 800 people every day.
  • Ukrainian Baptists have organized with the government to receive aid through humanitarian corridors, however, currently, there are issues at the Polish border causing a delay. The Baptists have a number of logistics centres ready to receive and distribute aid. Supplies are beginning to run out in shops, water is becoming harder to access in some cities. As some areas are lost, communication lines are cut to the rest of the country. The needs are direr in the eastern regions of the country. In response, the Coordination Centre of the Ukrainian Baptists is working from Lviv to establish aid distribution warehouses in Eastern and Central Ukraine.
The Baptist Response in neighbouring countries
  • Romania — The Romanian Baptist Union has mobilised churches for the capacity to take 4,000 refugees. Additionally, the union is coordinating responses with partner churches across the border, sending food and aid across the border. It has been snowing at the border into Suceava all week as more and more refugees cross into Romania, including hundreds of stranded Indian students. All refugees are being fed as soon as they arrive and are then offered free transport and accommodation.

  • Bulgaria — Bulgaria does not share a direct border with Ukraine. However, the Baptist Union in Bulgaria has established a network to collect Ukrainian refugees from the Romanian and Moldovan borders to help ease the pressure on their neighbours. So far in the capital Sofia, there are around 25 women and children who have been relocated, with dozens more located throughout the rest of the country. The Union anticipates that many more will come into the country should the war in Odessa intensify.
  • Georgia — As well as financial and aid contributions, the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia has offered accommodation for about 100 people in our retreat centre in Manglisi, which is located about 50 km away from Tbilisi.

This includes only the latest updates but does not exclude other country responses. Please see past reports for how other Baptist Unions are responding. If your union is responding to the crisis, please let us know so that we can include your response in future updates.

Due to safety and logistical reasons, the Baptist office has been moved from Kyiv. The team gathers for daily worship and coordinating meetings. Ukraine has deployed martial law, so it is difficult to get in both goods and money. Ukrainians have been able to negotiate “green channels” for bringing in aid, the first truck will test out this route tomorrow. The team on the ground in Ukraine is working very hard and is feeling tired, but continues to serve faithfully.

Movement out of Kyiv is now more difficult as is movement around Eastern Ukraine in general. Churches in the West are welcoming those fleeing conflict and helping women and children to cross the border. Many of those who are staying in Ukraine are now living with other Christians in the West. A Ukrainian pastor shared the following: “During this war, God is making miracles in Ukraine. Prayer is God’s shield over Ukraine. We are still standing only because God is taking care of us”. There are even weddings and baptisms still happening during this time.

In Poland, there are strong structures in place to offer help to refugees. Last night there were 400 refugees in a local Baptist church, children playing games and playing piano and experiencing lots of love. They have opened up another summer camp to about 40 refugees. The local seminary is also housing 40-50 refugees. There’s a growing number of churches (20-30) that are receiving refugees.

In Slovakia, each Baptist church has dedicated a person to respond and report to a national coordinator who can help organize supplies and the movement of refugees. So far, 70,000 refugees have come into the country, with many people resting for a time at the churches before moving on to a final destination.

The refugee migration has started with 6-7 km lines of people heading towards the Polish border. Both the Polish and Hungarian borders are currently open for Ukrainians to leave, and for goods to go enter Ukraine.

The situation on the ground is rapidly evolving, but our implementing partner, the All-Ukrainian of Associations of Evangelical Christian-Baptists has robust plans in place to respond and a lot of capacity to care for internally displaced persons. Polish and Hungarian Baptists are already organized to house refugees and bring goods into Ukraine.

We continue to speak with our partners who have been providing aid and shelter. One Ukrainian pastor, Pastor Igor, thanked all those praying for peace, adding: “Almost from the very beginning we have received prayers and support during this terrible time.”