On a Zoom call with a leader in the US, Matias described the current state of his team both in Ukraine and across the border.
As individuals and families cross the border and seek refuge in neighboring countries, many are being received directly into homes by benevolent strangers waiting at the border to take them in. However, as the need becomes greater and time passes, restrictions are beginning to roll out in some countries. For example, individuals may only leave Ukraine and enter Romania with proof of where they will be staying or who is hosting them.
As this reality settles in, Word of Life properties in Europe are preparing to welcome Ukrainians who cannot stay with their hosts for more than a few days or who have nowhere to go when they arrive at the border.
Currently, our Ukrainian staff still in Hungary is actively mobilizing to head to our WOL property in Romania. This property will become their home base, where they can focus on serving and welcoming Ukrainians as the need in Romania increases. As of this week, we are preparing to send a small group (about nine individuals) who have the skills and expertise necessary to get the property ready for others. While this happens, Matias hopes to travel to neighboring countries to assess the needs of the displaced people there. As we begin to get a clearer picture of the crisis and the Lord reveals needs that we can help meet, we will mobilize accordingly.
Meanwhile, in Ukraine, eight men from our staff/student body loaded up vans and made the trip from the western border back to the property outside of Kyiv. Our vans were filled with food and supplies donated by churches in the area–on the trip back to the property, the men stopped at military hospitals and other locations that requested re-supplying.
In the face of terror, the Ukrainian spirit has created a situation no one could have anticipated: there are more volunteers to fight than there are guns and munitions available. As a result, Ukrainians are mobilizing en masse for all sorts of humanitarian efforts. Our men will focus on meeting the needs of those around them in the ways that we are uniquely privileged to do during this time. Specifically, we have access to food and other resources that are scarce. The men will focus their energy on meeting physical needs of those around them, coordinating transportation for families who seek a way to the border in order to cross over to safety, and spiritually ministering to those left behind.
At the time of this posting, the men have just completed the treacherous drive back to Kyiv, but they won’t stay long. Soon after their arrival, they will load up their van with women, children, and the elderly, and drive them to a rallying point about 100 miles away, where they will meet other believers who will assist them in evacuating. Then, the team will once more fill the van with supplies and head back to Kyiv. Over and over, back and forth, as many times as needed.
Our team hasn’t made the dangerous trip back towards the capital reluctantly–they are scared for sure, but there’s a spirit that goes beyond that; they have joy and peace and conviction. No one is forcing them to go back, they do so gladly.
Matias shared an emotional plea for us not to glorify our men. He says, “These men are heroes, there isn’t another word for it. But everyone who has stayed behind, from those working in shelters, those just trying to stay alive, those serving in military hospitals, those feeding the others – they’re all heroes. Our missionaries aren’t the exception.”
This morning, a random woman saw Sergey, our Associate Director, purchasing food and supplies at a store. “Where are you taking those supplies?” she asked. “To Kyiv” said Sergey. She immediately pulled out cash and handed it to him to purchase even more. Not long after, another stranger heard where they were headed and offered his entire van load of food and supplies to take with them.
There is hope to be found in what we are watching unfold in the hearts of the Ukrainian people as they face this crisis. But even more so in the hearts of believers. Matias shared several text messages and testimonies of believers facing grave danger empowered by the hope of Jesus. When asked about how he was feeling, being far from his home and caring for his team in Hungary, he said:
“We’re not safe – no one we love is safe. There are still people back home. We’re not detached from what is happening. right now we’re mentally struggling to reconcile all of the things we’re feeling and thinking. Our desire for safety, the lack of control, our desire to trust God, our desire to serve others, our desire for it all to end… But we almost can’t help but think about eternity when we start to fear. We are in a position where we truly feel that the only answer is Christ. That He is the only One that we can run to. And it sounds like a cliche, but we feel it more deeply than we ever have.”
As the days pass and events unfold, we will continue to keep you updated on how you can specifically pray for and support those who have fled the war and those who remain in Ukraine. For now, we’ll leave you with a text message Matias sent to a student who reached out to him, afraid and hiding in the midst of gunfire:
“I’m praying for you. Just think about Jesus. Jesus is thinking about you. Do you know that? You’re in his thoughts right now. He is so powerful. He can do anything. And you know what – you will never die. You have already won. Just look at Christ.”
Please, Continue to Pray
- Continue to pray for the massacre to end in Ukraine and for Russian forces to retreat
- Pray for our men and others who remain in Ukraine – that they would be able to serve those around them and that the Lord would continue to sustain their joy in the midst of trials
- Pray for the families separated at the border and adjusting to a new reality in a foreign land
- Pray that those who do not know Jesus (both in Ukraine and those seeking refuge in neighboring countries) would come to know Him today