The Church’s Mission for Ukrainian Refugees

We thought we lived in a better world, where international agencies promised diplomatic solutions to the biggest conflicts on the planet. foreign police, assured us in 2011 that “world peace is closer than you think”. The analysis pointed out that “the past decade has seen fewer war deaths than any decade in the past 100 years”. In 2017, Modern diplomacy, went so far as to publish an analysis claiming that “war is obsolete”. A study published in Daily Science in 2020 has empirically proven that the world has become less violent over the past three decades. “The change for the better that our analysis has detected over the past 30 years may be due to peacekeeping work by global organizations like the UN and increased collaboration and cooperation among nations.”

Then on February 24, 2022, everything changed.

Russia, a Goliath of military might, arrived in Ukraine expecting an effortless victory, but Eastern Europe’s breadbasket rose to fight with courage worthy of David. Despite popular analyzes of the past decade, humanity has clearly not evolved to a higher level.

The ubiquitous presence of smartphones has made us all daily eyewitnesses to the fact that all the “progress” and “enlightenment” of modern times have done nothing to solve the problem of mankind’s fallen nature. We have seen Russian artillery fire, with no respect for humanitarian corridors, reduce Mariupol to rubble. We saw video footage of missiles hitting a theater, which was clearly marked “children” and housed women and their children, killing hundreds. When Russian troops began to withdraw from northern Ukraine, we saw officials discovering dead civilians and their bodies left to rot in the streets of the villages of Bucha and Makariv. We saw the pits full of bodies clad in black plastic. Later, when we thought things couldn’t get any more ugly, a Russian missile labeled “For Children” destroyed a train station in Kramatorsk, where women and children were trying to flee the war zone. Faced with these egregious atrocities, former Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and current Kremlin consultant Andrei Fedorov shrugged his shoulders and casually declared, “This is war. These things happen.

As a result of this carnage, the world is now facing the biggest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II, as 10 million people, or 25% of Ukraine’s total population, have fled their homes. , of which more than 4.4 million desperately cross into adjacent countries. search for security.

No, the world has failed to improve. But if we’re willing to get our hands dirty, empowered by the grace of Christ, maybe we can.

We will have to go beyond political pontification and academic analysis and heed the call of Matthew 25:35: “For I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in. This is where the rubber of our faith meets the road. Here the church has a unique opportunity to mirror the image of our loving God in a very fallen world, and each of us as followers of Christ has a unique contribution to make.

For Mark Priem, a longtime missionary in Odessa, Ukraine, that means helping his neighbors fill sandbags as missiles explode in the distance, giving them a Christian tract and praying when the job is done.

For Joszef Danko, a church planter in Berehove, Ukraine, that means meeting the physical and spiritual needs of Eastern Ukrainians huddled just inside Ukraine’s western border, not wanting to leave, but ready to enter Hungary if they have to. What does he need to continue his tireless ministry? All.

For Arpad Horvath-Kavai in Budapest, Hungary, this means serving as a “hub” for welcoming and relocating families when they arrive at Budapest train stations. Arpad also connects families with other host organizations in European countries.

For Phil Metzger, senior pastor of Calvary Chapel San Diego and former pastor of Calvary Chapel Budapest, Hungary, that means helping Ukrainian refugees massing in Tijuana, Mexico. Many traveled for a week and a half just to get to the California-Mexico border, hoping to gain asylum in the United States. “Our partners are at the airport meeting people, talking to them in Ukrainian or Russian, letting them know about the process,” Metzger told the local news station. “We get them a number, we take them on a bus that the Mexican government provides us, to take them to what we call the TJ hub where they have an indoor recreation center to rest.”

For GoodSports International in Hungary and Slovakia, this means developing what it has always done: “Love God and love children”. Thanks to GoodSports’ 25 years of experience working with the needy in Eastern Europe, the organization quickly joined the network of churches and non-governmental organizations working to help Ukrainian refugees. GoodSports Slovakia responded immediately with aid supplies to support churches on the border between Slovakia and Ukraine. GoodSports Hungary, which cares for orphanages in the country, pivoted to partner with churches that were evacuating orphans from eastern Ukraine. To date, the organization has assisted in the evacuation of 280 orphans from Ukraine to Freiburg, Germany, in association with its partner, Legacy Refuge.

Among the first wave of Ukrainians who had family and friends in Western Europe, many quickly crossed into Central Europe. Lately, however, less wealthy Ukrainians have come, wanting to stay in the border countries of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Moldova. Many wish to return to Ukraine as soon as possible. However, in the meantime, they need food and shelter – a haven where they can recuperate and heal – whether they eventually return or start over in a new land. In Hungary, the majority of accommodation is for temporary accommodation only (48 hours or less). There is a shortage of facilities that will give refugees the time they need to settle in their new country.

To meet this need, GoodSports Hungary has partnered with Dorcas Camping Center to provide accommodation for up to six months to Ukrainian refugees. Currently serving 100 people, the campground will accommodate up to 200 during the summer months when it can offer its facilities unheated. At the same time, GoodSports comes to the side of these vulnerable people, offering visits from support animals (therapy dogs), Bible studies and sports camps where children can be children again. GoodSports knows that its work with 200 Ukrainian refugees is only a drop in the ocean as the Russian invasion displaced a quarter of Ukraine’s population. But if every follower of Christ is willing to contribute something to help alleviate that suffering – their skills, their prayers, or their resources – it won’t be long before the needs are met.

As the European Union and NATO grapple with Vladimir Putin’s posturing, the world watches as United Nations officials reduce layer after layer of human atrocities. What happened to our commitment to the concept of “just war”? As this story unfolds, the West must balance the needs of the many (a non-nuclear war in Europe) with the needs of the alone (the existence of Ukraine).

During World War II, Reinhold Niebuhr rose up against “Western Christians who retreated into political pacifism”.1 His message cannot be lost in this current crisis. While NATO stands ready to fulfill its obligations under Article 5, the human cruelty in Ukraine demands a response. Will hindsight cry “too little, too late” to European nations preventing World War III? Intentionally or not, part of Putin’s legacy will be a new world order, the “Second Cold War”.

For presidents and diplomats, the political crystal ball is murky. For Christians, however, our path is clear. Although we may not be able to create peace on earth, by offering a “cup of cold water” in the name of Jesus, we can bring peace to the hearts of many.

1. Eric Patterson, Christianity and Power Politics Today: Christian Realism and Contemporary Political Dilemmas (New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), 1.

GoodSports Hungary and GoodSports Slovakia teams are working in partnership with local churches and non-profit organizations to help Ukrainian refugees. If you would like to contribute financially to this effort, please use the links provided and in the note box put “Ukraine”. Donations for GoodSports Hungary can be sent here, and for GoodSports Slovakia here.

Thank you for your continued prayers in the face of this situation.

Charles K. Eckert