By Aaron Weaver
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel are working to provide relief to Ukrainians. More than 1,000 Cooperative Baptist individuals, churches, partners and state/regional organizations have contributed to CBF’s Ukraine Relief Fund.
These gifts exceeding $400,000 are making an impact in Ukraine and across Europe as CBF field personnel and ministry partners help provide safety, shelter and Christ’s love to refugees. Learn more about how some of these funds have been distributed here.
Below are several updates from the week of April 5 from CBF field personnel:
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.
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. Below are several recent updates from the Podgaiskys.
- “On Sunday, we received the incredible bad news of the atrocities done in the town of Bucha, where The Village of Hope foster families ministry center is located. Once again, we know more than what you see on the news. Yet, we have good news. Gennady just heard from a colleague counselor from the city of Mariupol. She had been in the basement for 30 days with no communication. She just got out this morning! Praise God she survived and was able to communicate with the counselors’ group that Gennady is a member of. She was 30 km outside Mariupol when she sent a message to the group. She was able to evacuate through a humanitarian corridor. She said she felt she had left hell and was in heaven because there were no more sounds of bombing and shelling.” – Mina Podgaisky
- Spoke at several churches including Marion Baptist Church in Marion, N.C. (Wednesday) and First Baptist Church, Austin, Texas (Sunday), sharing about the current situation in Ukraine and how we are helping.
- “Continued conversations with partners in regard how to best help in their humanitarian efforts, food distribution, purchasing of cargo distribution van and to provide transportation to refugees that are fleeing from besieged cities. One partner moved to Poland.”
- “Recorded a video for several churches about our ministry in Ukraine and the current prayer needs since we cannot visit them at this time. Recorded video for WMU NC group about our ministry in Ukraine and the current situation.”
- “Spent many hours with American partners that have been closely involved with our ministry, some have gone to the Village of Hope, and helped them process the situation. We listened, explained, talked, prayed and cried with them.”
- “Collected and sorted medical and hygiene donations for Ukraine with the help of several ladies.”
- Met with American partners that are trying to send help to Ukraine.
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.
Read this recent feature story on Mary and her ministry: “In Living Memory: Netherlands-based CBF field personnel helps meet needs of Ukrainian refugees”
- From partner Pastor Petru in Moldova: “We continued to help incidental refugees in this area; also began volunteering at a border crossing between Moldova and Romana where busloads of refugees pass; water and food are offered at this place.“
- “Helped translate in church for local Ukrainian visitors. One young woman can translate English-Ukrainian. She had the Dutch sermon ahead of time and got an English translation of that to work with. I sat next to her in the translation booth and translated additional things (announcements, communion service, prayers) Dutch-English. What really touched me was that after the service we had Easter cards to elderly and shut-ins laid out for all of us to sign. One of the Ukrainian women came up to me as I was signing them and asked what it was. I explained (through Google translate), and she promptly began signing them, too!” – Mary Van Rheenen
Shane and Dianne McNary — Poprad, Slovakia
Slovakia has reported almost 250,000 refugees have arrived in Slovakia as of March 22. Below are ministry updates from CBF field personnel Shane McNary:
- This week, I was preparing for and attending a meeting. From Monday, March 28, I received and paid the bill for the washing machine put into the Poprad Baptist Church’s house in Vazec for use by refugees staying there.
- In response to a request from Ruzomberok Baptist Church, I provided funds to repair a Ukrainian refugees’ automobile.
- Conversations with a local organization focusing on foreigners living in Slovakia about providing counseling to Ukrainian refugees continued during the week.
- Conversations with Roma pastors group focused on resolving conflict among the Ukrainian Roma pastors who feel they are being treated unfairly in food aid being delivered to Ukraine. They plan a consultation to solve this and other issues about aiding IDPs in Ukraine as well as refugees in Slovakia.
Eddie Aldape — Albacete, Spain (temporarily Slovakia)
Eddie Aldape serves alongside his wife, Macarena, as a CBF field personnel in Albacete, Spain. He left Spain on March 15 to travel to Slovakia to assist Shane McNary in the relief efforts. Following two weeks in Slovakia, Eddie provided this update on April 5:
On one of several trips to the border, we were to deliver food and supplies at the border, but upon arrival we discovered that the pastors in Ukraine thought we would take it to him. We asked around and found a Czech organization of young people that was willing to take the food across the border. The majority of them are Czech but there were other nationalities represented and one American also. I was so impressed and moved by their work. I thought they would only cross the border, but they actually took everything all the way to the pastor’s location. Some are willing to travel up to 150 kms into Ukraine. It almost looked like a commune. There were hippie looking dudes, laptops everywhere being used to for social media and all the fun stuff millennials are able to do, people sleeping in tents and in a crack house and yet there they were ready to serve. I was overwhelmed at their courage. At that point I wished we had a better world to hand over to them, our next generation.
This whole week has been full of highs and lows. One minute we are opening our doors welcoming someone in need and the next we are taking someone back to the border because something has happened to a family member or they are moving on to their next location. I am happy for them but I am not good at goodbyes. Another sad part is that when they go to there new location, they don’t always receive the same welcome as everybody else.
Five young ladies showed up at the pastor’s house with four babies and a toddler on a cold, rainy night. They had not eaten for two days and were wet and cold. It was late so we could not give them clothes but early the next day we went to the store and got warm outfits for the little ones. They were so excited that they could not wait to try it on. The adults had to wait a little longer but eventually they too got new clothing.
Google translator works great if the Wi-Fi is working and unfortunately around our hotel it is spotty at best. I wish it was able to recognized the language being spoken like it does the written one. I have to remember to change the language, what language each person speaks and hope that they do not code switch (change from one language to another) and switch to the language being spoken. My ADD brain tries to help and makes my mouth speak Hindi or Lamni words. The joy of being multilingual and yet not being able to communicate. Thank God other guests at the hotel have been able to translate for me.
Please give generously to the Ukraine Relief Fund at www.cbf.net/ukraine.