Coming Together to Aid Ukraine
by David Nakhla, Administrator for the Committee on Diaconal Ministries
The OPC Committee on Diaconal ministries is committed to use the gifts given to the Ukraine Crisis Fund for ministry to those affected by the war in Ukraine, ideally through presbyterian and reformed avenues—those with whom we share similar understanding of God’s word and the proper uses of diaconal funds. In seeking to determine where the funds might be used the best, we have grown in our understanding of the number of reformed and presbyterian churches, missionaries, and organizations ministering to Ukrainian refugees in Eastern Europe.
Planned Assessment Trip of the Ministries to Refugees, May 10-1
Further, I am planning to travel to Eastern Europe for a whirlwind assessment trip of the various ministries, accompanied by Rich Bout, the URCNA Missions Coordinator. The dates for this trip are May 10-16. Please pray for the Lord’s blessing on this trip.
Mission to the World (MTW, the PCA’s mission organization), has had a presence in Ukraine since the early 90s, following the fall of the Soviet Union and communism. As a church-planting mission, MTW birthed the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Ukraine (EPCU). There are now 16 EPCU churches and/or church plants sprinkled throughout Ukraine (and one outside of Ukraine in Krakow, Poland), as seen on the map below.
Locations of Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Ukraine Congregations
Prior to the war, MTW had teams concentrated in three cities: L’viv, Odessa, and Kiev. At the outbreak of war, MTW determined to relocate most members of the team in L’viv about 200 miles west to Krakow, Poland. The team in Odessa moved its operation 350 miles west to Brasov, Romania. The team in Kiev has been dispersed to various places.
MTW established the Ukraine Crisis Church Fund with the goal of raising $4 million. In less than 8 weeks, they raised almost $4.5 million ($75,000 of that is from the OPC’s Ukraine Crisis Fund).
With the L’viv team now in Krakow, and the Odessa team now in Brasov, MTW has been able to use these funds for the facility, material, and personnel expenses related to housing, feeding, transporting, and clothing refugees in those locations. For some refugees, they have also had to provide medical care and counseling.
The funds have also been used to enable a ministry to the many sick and elderly who have been left behind in many of the cities in Ukraine. Through the faithful, tireless, and heroic efforts of some of the saints in the EPCU, truckloads of humanitarian supplies are being purchased and driven to eastern Ukraine to help care for the sick and elderly. When the vehicles return westward for more supplies, they do that transporting more refugees out of the more dangerous areas of Ukraine.
We look forward to seeing the work of MTW in Krakow, first-hand on May 12.
Please continue to pray for the safety, comfort, and care of many EPCU church members who have been left behind in many dangerous areas of Ukraine, especially the city of Kharkiv near the Russian border in the Northeast.
The Reformed Presbyterian Church of Central and Eastern Europe (RPCCEE) is another young denomination, now almost 25 years old, located in Hungary, Romania and Western Ukraine. The OPC enjoys a healthy fraternal relationship with the RPCCEE, delighted in seeing these like-minded brothers prosper in their work to establish a faithful witness in that part of the world. Being next door to Ukraine and having 3 of their 27 churches in Ukraine, the RPCCEE has been actively receiving, hosting, and helping refugees coming to their churches in Hungary. Many reformed/presbyterian churches and organizations are seeking to come alongside the RPCCEE, given their strategic location and their faithful efforts to organize in a trustworthy fashion.
According to a recent update, refugees are now being routed to detention camps by the Hungarian government. As a result, the RPCCEE reports the following: “As things stand now, it is very probable that our focus will change, from offering shelter for Refugees, to helping those who remained in Ukraine and those who settle in Hungary. There are of course many unknown factors which may turn this plan upside down, and the influx of refugees might increase again. Then we will have to make the necessary adjustments.”
We have asked how we can participate and they have invited us to send $9,900, designated for “Post-War Needs”. Those funds have been sent.
Visiting the RPCCEE labors in Budapest and Miskolc, Hungary, are our first scheduled stops, May 10 & 11, respectively.
World Witness, the foreign missions agency of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, has missionaries in several strategic locations in Europe. They are in Warsaw, Poland, 150 miles from Ukraine’s western border. They are also in Lithuania, just north of Poland. Others are in Germany and Spain. Each of these outposts are either receiving refugees or ministering to those in their area. In Warsaw, their focus has been to teach Polish to those Ukrainians desiring to settle in Poland.
Lord-willing, we will observe the work of the ARP in Warsaw on May 13 and their work in Kaunas, Lithuania, on May 14.
Hearts of Hope:An OPC deacon and his wife live in the very corner of Southwestern Ukraine, just next to the border with Romania, by the Black Sea. Greg and Bonnie Harrison have adopted some children from Ukraine and are providing foster care for others. Since the start of the war, they have been relocated into Romania, where they live as refugees and also minister to others with lodging and care, as well as providing translation assistance at the border. We will not be able to visit this family on this trip.
Tolle Lege: Another ministry located in Warsaw that has reformed connections is that of Tolle Lege and its director, Dariusz Brycko. While the focus of their ministry has been in translating reformed works into the Polish language, Tolle Lege has sought to rise to the occasion in playing a role in trucking humanitarian relief from its strategic location in Warsaw to Ukraine.
In a recent newsletter, they shared the shocking news that one of their drivers came under gunfire on his way home from a delivery in the Kharkiv area and was shot and killed, leaving behind a wife and six children. These brothers are carrying out these deliveries at great personal risk. They covet continued prayers on their behalf, for courage and safety.
Lord-willing, we will visit Tolle Lege and this operation on May 13.
There are many other ministries sending funds over. But, at this point, these are those of which we are aware at this time. Please pray that the Lord would continue to guide and direct.