By Aaron Weaver
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel are working to provide relief to Ukrainians. Below are several updates from the week of March 14 (read March 8 update here):
Gennady and Mina Podgaisky — Kyiv, Ukraine (currently in North Carolina)
The Podgaiskys continue to work with 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 contributed by Cooperative Baptists through the CBF Ukraine Relief Fund 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.
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.
Shane and Dianne McNary — Poprad, Slovakia
Slovakia has reported almost 200,000 refugees processed as of March 12. Below are ministry updates from CBF field personnel Shane McNary:
- Prayer call with my network of Roma pastors plus one missionary.
- Delivered aid for refugees collected by Roma in Jelsava to Marek (pastor of Pentecostal Roma church). Wonderful visit with Marek and delivery of goods to the church. Not many are coming across the borders in need of shelter. Those who are crossing are mostly crossing with automobiles. Further, the Slovak Government has moved all aid tents from Vyzne Nemecke (main auto crossing from Uzhhorod). Refugees are bussed to Michalovce and processed there.
- Call with Roma network of pastors (from SK and UA), SK Roma member of parliament, and missionaries.
- Contact with Baptist churches about needs
- Prayer time with the European Baptist Federation
- After church on Sunday, I had lunch with a few members from the Poprad Baptist church, one Ukrainian family of four—one is a special needs son—who are living in the church’s apartment, and one other Ukrainian refugee. He is a member of Diamond church in Kyiv. He refuses to take up arms, so he volunteered to take his best friends wife and child along with his family as they fled.
- Delivered Bibles to Baptist Church in Kosice (KE) – and left an extra box requested by member of Roma church in KE.
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. Mary reported that she has sent contributions form the CBF Ukraine Relief Fund to support partners across Moldova, who are providing emergency assistance to Ukrainians. Below is an update from Pastor Petru Ciochina who is helping to coordinate this ministry on-the-ground in Moldova:
On March 9, we planned a trip to the south of Moldova on the border with Ukraine in the village of Palanca, where the large stream of refugees enters Moldova and where volunteer tents are set up. From the information I found out the important needs of the volunteers. The sisters in the church cooked hot food so that it could be taken with us. We bought the rest of the food.
Arriving at the destination, we found that at the customs point there were only Christian volunteers from the nearby churches, which we also enjoyed and it has encouraged us. We gave the things we brought with us to be used by the refugees. In the village of Palanca there is a Baptist church that has made a reception center for refugees. There is food for the refugees. I spoke with Pastor Sergiu, presenting my problems and needs. For this center, I gave 18 kg of sausages. And money for heat and transportation.
Because I like to be with people and communicate with them, I focused my activity on refugees from the center of Nisporeni who are without money and with many children. I buy them medicine and some baby food. Among them I met a woman named Vica who moved me to tears. Vica has a good and patient heart. She ran away from the war with five children, all of her own. She told me about the hardships she went through before arriving in Moldova.
Vica is 25 years old, her husband left her before the war started. When the war began, they fled to the shelters. Every time the sirens sounded, she couldn’t dress all five of her children quickly, and she was the last to reach the bomb shelter. And because of this her father forced her to go to Moldova with her brother.
Later she asked me to help her go to Romania so that she could reach a relative of her refugee from war in Germany. Saying that the refugee center in Germany has better conditions for her children and can help her with her children. Vica had no money. I bought them tickets. I gave them some pocket money. She said that when she came back, she would give me back everything I had spent with her and her children. That moved me and I said no.
I told her I was doing this because I had Jesus in my heart. And He brought me to you, and He loves children. And He teaches me: “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also tot hem likewise.” We hugged her and we said goodbye as if she were a child of mine. Now I don’t know anything about her, I prayed with the whole church to be on God’s guard. She was to arrive in Munchen.
Alicia and Jeff Lee — Skopje, North Macedonia
Alicia and Jeff Lee reported that Macedonia recently began receiving refugees from Ukraine. Below is an update from the Lees:
Macedonia began receiving refugees from Ukraine over the weekend. The number is around 50. The Food Bank of Macedonia is responding by providing food for those in need. We are getting a list of needs from the families. Most of the families have come without the father because, as you all know, the men have to stay. The families are staying in flats and apartments set up by the municipality. We do not know if the number will increase. We are working with a Catholic refugee ministry to provide other needs that are requested.
Eddie Aldape — Albacete, Spain
Eddie Aldape serves alongside his wife, Macarena, has a CBF field personnel in Albacete, Spain. He left March 15 to travel to Slovakia to assist Shane McNary in the relief efforts.
Please give generously to the Ukraine Relief Fund at www.cbf.net/ukraine