In 2015, Gediminas and Kristina Dailyde left their home in Lithuania and traveled to Canada to participate in Multiply’s long-term missionary training. It was a rich time of learning, equipping, and becoming aware of their many connections within the global MB family. They returned several months later to Vilnius, Lithuania, to start a church and serve among their own people.
However, several years later, in 2022, when war broke out in their region, relationships with their global family were put to the test. How would they respond to this crisis?
“On February 24, 2022, everything changed for us in Lithuania,” said Gediminas. “When Russia invaded Ukraine, it hit us personally. We thought to ourselves, ‘If Russia will go to Kyev, they will go to Vilnius.’ We just weren’t prepared for this. Our churches weren’t prepared for this.”
Gediminas and his small MB church in Vilnius were in shock, but they were also determined to do whatever they could to help. Together with other MB church leaders in Lithuania, they knew they had to do something. “We immediately connected with MB church leaders in Eastern Ukraine,” said Gediminas, “and we asked them what we could do.”
MB churches in Lithuania began mobilizing teams and vans to bring basic supplies like food and clothing to Ukraine. “We just reacted to the need, and we drove right into Ukraine, and whatever we brought to them, they brought to others. They knew where the greatest needs were.”
It was Lithuanians helping Ukrainians help other Ukrainians—an effective chain of helping. Yet Gediminas was quick to point out that there were more links in the chain, one of them being Multiply’s Regional Team Leader for Europe and Central Asia, Johann Matthies. “Johann was the one who coordinated our efforts,” Gediminas explained. “Although he lives in Germany, Johann had spent so much time in Ukraine, and he knew all of the different leaders so well.”
According to Gediminas, this coordination was essential because it was hard at times for non-Ukrainians to know how best to help. “When you don’t know the people personally, it’s hard to know how to help,” he said simply. “It’s actually possible to help in ways that don’t really connect with real needs.”
However, with Johann’s facilitation, Gediminas and the others from Lithuania were able to meet with the Ukrainian MB church leaders and identify with them in their struggle. “Our help was very small compared to other organizations,” said Gediminas, “but the connections we made with our Ukrainian brothers and sisters were very strong. On our visits across the border, we sat with them for hours and listened to their specific needs. We ate borscht together. We prayed together. Of course, we brought supplies and money, but they told us later that the most meaningful part for them was that we came into their country, into their suffering, just to be with them.”
For Gediminas, this identification was at the heart of effective collaboration in Ukraine, and he saw something similar in the international response. “This crisis in Ukraine brought a lot of different people together globally,” said Gediminas. “We couldn’t do this on our own. But as soon as we started doing something, Johann connected us with churches in the Netherlands, in Germany, in Canada, and the US.”
Gediminas reflected on how personal connections strengthened the relief effort: “Where the chain is connected, where each link is attached to another, and there’s pressure, there is something happening, there is heat generated. That’s what I felt when I was driving through Poland together with Greg Laing (Multiply in Canada) and with John Best (Willingdon Church). Of course, they were giving us help, but there was a connection between us. I learned from them, and they learned more about Lithuania, and about Ukraine. And there was that partnership, that good heat, you know? It’s a spiritual family. It makes a brotherly chain.”
The small network of MB churches in Lithuania had limited resources. Yet, in the end, their relief efforts were multiplied significantly because of the broader international response. It was a global family of faith united in Christ that responded compassionately to a regional conflict, giving people all over the world an opportunity to participate.
In November 2022, Gediminas sent a video message to churches in North America and Western Europe, explaining, “We want to thank all of the churches that helped our Lithuanian MB churches to accept and help Ukrainians.”
His introduction was followed by heartfelt words of thanks from numerous Ukrainian refugees that had found refuge, relief, and hope in Lithuania.
According to Gediminas, the crisis—and the corresponding opportunity—is not over. “We are facing more challenges,” he said. “Our people are getting tired, and we expect more refugees from Ukraine in the winter.”
Yet Gediminas is not despairing. He has witnessed the strength of the global MB family, and especially their spiritual vitality. As real as the needs are in Eastern Europe, and as harsh as the realities of war have become in Ukraine, there is an abiding hope in Christ and in his Spirit at work in the Church. “We will face this together,” said Gediminas, “our faith is strong, our love is real.”
Please continue to pray for peace in Ukraine, and pray for the global MB family in our efforts to help Ukrainians in their time of need.
Click here for recent updates about Multiply’s response to the war in Ukraine, including prayer requests and giving opportunities.
Mark JH Klassen is a writer with Multiply and a member of Yarrow MB Church (BC).