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 12 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, 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 Thursday, we received a video that showed unexploded mines and ammunition at the Village of Hope close to the Lighthouse, the building that was destroyed. It is not safe to go to the rest of the property and see if there is any more damage until experts clear the property.
We also learned that the house of the former construction manager of the Village of Hope was destroyed in Irpin. Many volunteer teams stayed in his house for many years. Lately, three of his adult children with their families lived in that house. Nobody was in the house when it was bombed. Most likely it was a Ukrainian bombing because there was a Russian tank hiding next to the house. There are remains of the Russian tank on the back of the house.
Yet we have good news! Gennady just heard from the colleague counselor that evacuated the city of Mariupol. She, her daughter and granddaughter, had been in the basement for 30 days with no communication. She made it to the Russian controlled area, Donesk, through a humanitarian corridor. The whole family was sick for several days – stress-related sickness. They are now in St. Petersburg, Russia, hoping to move into Estonia.
- Mina had a zoom meeting with North Carolina WMU on Wednesday
- Spoke at Myrtle Grove Baptist Church in Pensacola, Fla. (joined adult Sunday School)
- Spoke with Executive Director of Fellowship Southwest, Stephen Reeves. We are trying to coordinate a mission trip from a Slavic church in Sacramento to Brownsville/Matamoros to help with Russian/English translation for expected Ukrainian refugees in that border.
- The bulk of our presentations are about the current situation in Ukraine and how we are helping.
- Listened, talked with and counseled several individuals in Ukraine and other countries
- Gennady continues to research different options for sending money and sent money to several Ukrainian partners.
- 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.
- Sent recorded video to several churches and partners about our ministry in Ukraine and the current prayer needs since we cannot visit them at this time.
- 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.
- Continue to research options on how to best send the medical donations and to whom. A partner working with Doctors without Borders wants the donations as she oversees distribution of medicines and medical equipment to different hospitals in Ukraine.
- Met with Ukrainian refugees in Pensacola. Helped them found a house in Sarasota through CBF Florida Coordinator Ray Johnson
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”
Below are a few updates from Mary:
In Moldova, Petru & company continue to assist refugees who are staying in their area locally and those who come through the Moldovan/Romanian border near them. This is the process. When Ukrainian refugees cross the border into Moldova, most of them choose not to stay in Moldova. A sort of “bus station” has been set up on the Moldovan side of the border. Buses, mini-vans, and private cars wait to fill up with refugees who are all going to the same destination. The refugees are then driven to the next most logical border crossing between Moldova and, in this case, Romania.
By the time these vehicles get to this next border, the people on board are hungry and thirsty. At a border crossing about 40 km from Nisporeni (where Petru & Olesea live) a church has set up a tent to meet the needs of these refugees. Petru & others from Nisporeni go there 2x a week with supplies (bottled water, juice boxes for kids, diapers, packaged food that can be handed out and eaten later). They also serve as translators for the refugees, since almost every Romanian-speaking Moldovan can also speak Russian. And, in Petru’s case, since most of his extended family live in Ukraine, he is fluent in Ukrainian.
Locally, they continue to provide additional help at the Nisporeni refugee center, as needed. They also paid a second visit to a group staying with family in a nearby village. This group is a woman and 8 children from an orphanage. The family member they are staying with finds the situation a bit alarming. That’s a lot of people in her small house. They were all glad to receive the supplies Petru & co. brought them.
Our Russian friends who have lived in the Netherlands even longer than we have contacted us to see if we knew a faster way to help Ukrainian refugees. Their initial offers of help have gotten bogged down in paperwork. Was glad to assist.
- Helped arrange translation for Ukrainian refugees who attend our church’s worship services.
- Applied for and was approved for funding from the CBF Ukraine Relief Fund
- Wrote blurb and made related media for Dutch church’s Paasdankoffer (Easter Thanksgiving Offering); this year they spontaneously decided to send the collection to work with Ukrainian refugees in Moldova.
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 and Dianne McNary:
- Consultation with several pastors involved with refugee relief.
- Dianne visited with Eddie Aldape (CBF field personnel) and pastor Marek and delivered donated supplies
- In response to a request from Ruzomberok Baptist Church, Shane 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.
- Conversation with CBF staff regarding advocacy at the international level and steps to advocate for Freedom of Religion or Belief.
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 three weeks in Slovakia, Eddie provided this update on April 12:
- Continued to assist families traveling to Spain to be hosted by friends and family
- Provided funds for families/churches in Ukraine that have a connection with someone in Spain.
- Continue to meet online with the Ukrainian families living in Spain for prayer and moral support
- Joined a convoy of four other vehicles in order to take a group of 40 to a train station.
- Purchased shoes for five individuals before their travel
- Purchased and distributed breakfast and dinner items to our guests at our hotel
- Did six trips to several pharmacies
- Numerous trips to the border to drop off those that have decided to return home
- Picked up people from the border that needed a ride to their next destination.
- Drove to three train stations, two bus stations and one airport.
- Did about 25 loads of laundry (bed sheets and towels). The ladies at the hotel felt sorry for me and helped me sweep and mop.
For more information, see this feature article from April 11: “CBF’s Eddie Aldape works long days to move Ukrainian refugees through Slovakia.”
Please give generously to the Ukraine Relief Fund at www.cbf.net/ukraine.