March 24, 2022
By Aaron Weaver and Jeff Huett
DECATUR, Ga. — Nearly 975 Cooperative Baptist individuals, churches, partners and state and regional organizations have given more than $400,000 to CBF’s Ukraine Relief Fund in the month since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
And those gifts are already making an impact in Ukraine and across Europe as CBF field personnel and ministry partners in the region help provide safety, shelter and Christ’s love to some of the nearly 3.7 million refugees. These gifts and others that continue to be given will be used to provide relief to those served by CBF field personnel and ministry partners as Ukrainians flee the invasion of their country into other nations.
Grants from the fund were quickly allocated to support ministries of Gennady and Mina Podgaisky, who have continued ministry they have led in Ukraine even as they have been in North Carolina since earlier this year. The fund is also supporting the work of CBF field personnel Dianne and Shane McNary in Slovakia and Eddie Aldape, who serves as CBF field personnel in Spain, and has traveled to Slovakia to serve refugees alongside the McNarys. The fund is supporting the work of Project Ruth, which is a CBF Legacy Partner; as well as work alongside global Baptist partners through Baptist World Aid.
CBF Executive Coordinator Paul Baxley said Cooperative Baptists have responded generously to the invitation to support the relief efforts which has equipped field personnel to respond with speed to these urgent needs.
“Over the last several weeks, our Fellowship has responded generously to the invitation for financial contributions to the CBF Ukraine Relief Fund,” Baxley said. “As the war has intensified and Ukrainians have fled to neighboring countries, CBF field personnel have worked with partners and congregations to offer hospitality and compassion to refugees while also building capacity to offer such care. Gifts to the Ukraine Relief Fund have already enabled us to respond with speed to urgent needs that have emerged. We have also been able to support relief efforts being coordinated by the European Baptist Federation and the Baptist World Alliance.”
“Today, I thank everyone who has supported this fund. I encourage others to give generously. Above all, I ask you to pray for our field personnel as they offer Christ’s love in tangible ways. I ask you to pray for congregations and their leaders in Ukraine and across the region. Please continue to pray fervently for an end to the violence, and pray for the people of Ukraine who have suffered extraordinary loss at the hands of Russian aggression.”
CBF field personnel Gennady and Mina Podgaisky have served in Kyiv, Ukraine, for 20 years. From their current location 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.
The Podgaiskys have distributed $10,000 from the CBF Ukraine Relief Fund to trusted ministry partners in Kyiv and western Ukraine for the purposes of humanitarian aid, including the purchase of food, water, gasoline, hygiene items, shelter, bedding, kitchen and cooking items and more.
In Slovakia, CBF field personnel Dianne and Shane McNary are helping to coordinate relief efforts in partnership with their network of Roma pastors and churches. As of March 22, more than 250,000 refugees from Ukraine have arrived in Slovakia. Most refugees are in need of a place to stay for a brief period as they move farther west into Europe.
The McNarys have received $30,000 from the CBF Ukraine Relief Fund for the purpose of purchasing a building nearby a local Roma congregation to serve as a central warehouse for collection and distribution of food and supplies such as bedding and clothing. This warehouse will serve as a go-between for donors and requests for supplies, and will provide a meaningful way of engagement for individuals and churches who want to help. The McNarys are working in close partnership with Slovak Baptists and have supported refugee responses in five Slovak Baptist congregations.
CBF field personnel Eddie Aldape, who is based in Spain, has temporarily relocated to Slovakia to serve Ukrainian refugees alongside the McNarys. Aldape was granted $7,000 to cover the cost of his expenses, including lodging, auto rental and food, as he helps to transport refugees from the border to places they are staying and also assists the relief efforts in a myriad of ways.
In Romania, the CBF Ukraine Relief Fund has allocated $25,000 to support Project Ruth, a CBF Legacy Partner ministry, led by Executive Director Mihai Ciopasiu, which offers education, medical care, pastor training and church starting in Romania. Project Ruth has now become a refugee center for Ukrainians, and in the first month since the Russian invasion, Project Ruth has welcomed nearly 100 refugees into their center. The CBF relief funds will assist in set up for housing refugees with the purchase of needed appliances for the housing center including washing machines, refrigerators and stoves. These relief funds will contribute to Project Ruth’s budget for numerous expenses including food, utilities, medical care, fuel and more.
The CBF Ukraine Relief Fund has also distributed $5,000 to support the relief efforts of Baptist World Aid.
Additionally, CBF field personnel Mary van Rheenen, who serves in The Netherlands alongside her husband Keith Holmes, is providing support to refugees through her ministry partnerships in Moldova, which borders Ukraine. Read this recent story on Mary and her ministry: “In Living Memory: Netherlands-based CBF field personnel helps meet needs of Ukrainian refugees.”
CBF field personnel Alicia and Jeff Lee of Skopje, North Macedonia, are also beginning to provide assistance to refugees arriving in the country. They are working with a local refugee ministry to help meet needs of the families.
Please give generously to the CBF Ukraine Relief Fund at www.cbf.net/ukraine.
Learn more about CBF’s Ukraine response at www.cbf.net/ukraine-response.
CBF is a Christian network that helps people put their faith to practice through ministry efforts, global missions and a broad community of support. The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.