By Aaron Weaver
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel are working to provide relief to Ukrainians. Below are several updates from the week of March 8:
Gennady and Mina Podgaisky — Kyiv, Ukraine (currently in North Carolina)
The Podgaiskys are working through their networks to provide friends and neighbors with evacuation information and connecting Ukrainians to resources in the country such as transportation, relocation to safety, shelters and contact information for medical advice and the location of food/shelter.
They are also sending funds to trusted ministry partners and individuals in Kyiv, Romania and Spain to provide humanitarian relief. The Podgaiskys have partnered with the War Orphan Project, a new ministry putting together a plan to aid an orphanage that is taking care of the children whose parents were killed during the Russian invasion. As of March 4, the ministry had taken in more than 45 orphaned children from just one area of Ukraine.
Gennady and Mina are counselors and have been providing around-the-clock emotional support to ministry partners, church council, church members, Bible study members, and other friends and neighbors. They are doing so via phone calls and a variety of social messaging apps. They are praying with, providing encouragement to, and offering counseling to people in crisis in different parts of Ukraine, including areas already occupied by Russian forces as well as those on the front lines defending Kyiv, staying in bunkers/makeshift bomb shelters and evacuees.
The Podgaisksys have been giving numerous interviews with television, radio and podcasts and sharing with ministry partners and contacts in the United States on how they can pray and help. They are speaking in CBF congregations regularly and recording videos to send to groups, churches and partners.
Shane and Dianne McNary — Poprad, Slovakia
Slovakia has received the third-largest number of Ukrainian refugees (128,000), behind Poland (1.02 million) and Hungary (180,000). The McNarys are providing support to the Slovak Baptist Union as well as three churches.
Shane recently represented the Slovak Baptist Union on the European Baptist Federation prayer call and provided an update. As of last week, there were at least 91 people being housed by the Slovak Baptist Union. According to Shane, many refugees are staying short-term, but some are drawn to Slovakia due to family connections and will likely stay longer.
Below are several recent ways that the McNarys are providing ministry during this time to refugees:
- Facilitated transfer of $4,000 in aid to two churches to provide cash assistance to refugees.
- Drop-shipped Ukrainian Bibles to Nesvady and delivered four cases of Bibles to Poprad (3 of the cases will be delivered into Ukraine to a long-term church partner)
- Ordered four additional cases of Bibles from the Slovak Bible Society
- Provided a washing machine for a church’s retreat building which is housing 18 refugees
- Convened a call of a network of Roma pastors to discuss cooperation and logistics
- Working with leaders of the European Baptist Federal to publicly respond to the crisis in Ukraine
- Coordinated delivery of collected goods requested by a Roma church located near the Ukrainian border.
Mary van Rheenen — Romany Ministries in Europe
Mary van Rheenen, who serves in The Netherlands alongside her husband Keith Holmes, has strong partnerships with Christians in Moldova, which borders Ukraine. Below are several ways that Mary has been providing ministry in the last week:
- Praying and gathering prayer support for Moldovan Christians
- Relaying donations of humanitarian assistance from supporters to partners in Moldova, including churches in Nisporeni and the Romany village of Vulcanesti.
- Interview with media on ministry to Ukraine refugees
- Solicited inquiries for Moldovan friends in the capital of Chisinau about housing in case of need to evacuate.
As the situation on the ground in Ukraine continues to change rapidly, you can offer hope to threatened and displaced Ukrainians through CBF’s Ukraine Relief Fund. This fund will provide relief to those served by the Podgaiskys’ ministry, as well as other ministry partners in Kyiv. Additional support will be directed to Baptist World Alliance Forum for Aid Development (BFAD).
Please give generously to the Ukraine Relief Fund at www.cbf.net/ukraine.