- Oleksii Makaiov, MB pastor in Molochansk, reports from Kyiv of the dire needs faced by those living in this dangerous territory. Before the war, church workers like Sergei and his wife Nastya served families in crisis in cooperation with the city’s social services. With such infrastructure now compromised, they rely on receiving food, personal hygiene items, diapers and baby food through our MB churches. Yet another supply van is en route from the Gmunden MB church in Austria. Oleksii writes, “I hug each and every one of you! Thank you!” Foto of family in front of brick wall.
New Hope Center director Maxym Oliferovski reports that families are coming to the newly adapted center in Zaporizhzhia for respite before continuing on their way to the borders. One mother and her son spent sixteen days and nights hiding in a basement before being able to escape Mariupol. Multiply workers and MB churches in Berdyansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Mukachevo are helping families like these on their evacuation journey.
Refugees arriving in Romania are being loaded onto a bus to travel to Germany, where European Multiply director Johann Matthies is helping with placement through the generous hospitality of MB churches. Johann tells of Olga, a Russian-German believer, saying, “She opened her home at midnight to welcome strangers!” Johann continues to receive calls and texts from those needing help, more recently from the cities of Avdeevka and Tokmak.
Many in Germany are experiencing the tension of being in close relationships with both Russians and Ukrainians; some church families are even foster parents to children from both nations. There are many difficult conversations. In one case, the Russian foster children were afraid to meet the Ukrainian children, saying, “No, they will not accept us. We are now just enemies.” The churches are working to not allow shame, fear, or hatred to bring division.
Pastor Valdas Vaitkevicius in Lithuania reports that his MB church in Šiauliu is hosting thirty refugees in their building and have placed twenty more in private homes. They work together with other churches in Klaipeda, Šiauliu, and Vilnius to gather and transport goods donated for the relief efforts. One large pile was brought in by the police department, packed by local officers. Johann Mathies says, “I’m amazed at the trusting relationships and standing this particular church has in the community.” Two vans are now headed to Ukraine to distribute provision and bring back another twenty refugees. One is being driven by MB pastor Gediminas Dailyde, ordained only a few days ago. Foto of Gedas
Johann has also been in conversation with other church bodies. The Pentecostal bishop of Lithuania is asking how to help in bringing about a partnership between the MB conference and the churches of the German Evangelical Alliance.
Multiply workers D (Austria, Central Asia) and G (Central Asia) are in Romania and Moldova this week. They are taking along some monetary funds from the European Multiply offices to buy food supplies for refugees in Moldova. They hope to return with recommendations on how best to engage on that side of the Ukraine border.
- Multiply’s global worker and MB pastor in Lithuania, Gedyminas Dailyde, reports on teams of relief workers that are crossing the border into Ukraine through Hungary. Once there, they are warmly welcomed with bowls of borscht which they eat quickly, before boarding as many Ukrainian refugees as possible to transport back across the border.
- G is Multiply’s global worker in central Asia, who is now regularly traveling to Romania and Moldova to work with over fifteen churches and organizations that are helping refugees. Drawing on his experience from working with refugees in Kosovo, Iraq, and Canada, G also holds training sessions in disaster management and psychological first aid. As the crisis is deepening and developing, they continue to discuss future strategies.
- The majority of evangelical churches in Romania and Moldovia have opened their buildings to provide care, food, and shelter for refugees. These countries are receiving the most refugees, but the needs are overwhelming, and they lack the kind of infrastructure needed. Very often the only relief funding comes from the small donations of their own congregations, yet these small churches have done miracles in protecting and feeding the refugees.
- Our team in Austria reports that vans full of relief goods donated by Austrian MB churches are now delivering provisions and picking up refugees on a weekly basis.
- Ukraine MB pastor Maxym Oliferovski reports on the completion of the renovations needed to turn the New Hope Center facility in Zaporizhzhia into a shelter. Offices have become dorm rooms, and a shower cubicle has been installed. Refugees pause here for a few days of food and shelter before continuing on route to the borders. The shelter has already hosted dozens of individuals, families, and even pets. Maxym jokes about how MB peacemaking values are being tested as they host a cat and a parrot at the same time!
- In Moldova, several churches and Christian organizations have joined to create Christian Association for Refugees (ACR), a coalition with a centralized database to help refugees from Ukraine. The ACR sprang out of the disaster management and trauma counseling seminar given by Multiply worker G (based in central Asia) to the evangelical leaders in Kishinev. As a native Romanian, G’s expertise and network of family, friends and church colleagues is opening many such doors for ministry.
- In Kishinev, Moldova, CRU (Campus Crusade for Christ) is encouraging Multiply Europe to consider sending short-term teams to work with the many Ukrainian refugee children being hosted both in evangelical centers as well government facilities.
- In Botosani, Romania, our teams are partnering with OCC (Samaritan’s Purse) to assess the current stage of the crisis and contingency issues. Both OCC and a Christian organization called Hand of Help are encouraging the sending of short-term teams to run Vacation Bible School ministries for refugee children, as well as Russian or Ukrainian speaking outreach teams to share the Gospel.
- Multiply Europe reports that this current crisis is presenting us with a challenge to strategize regarding both long-term crisis relief as well as immediate and long-term church planting ventures among refugees throughout Europe, and a strengthening and expansion of church planting in Ukraine.
- For now, much of the relief work involves transportation from the Ukraine borders to Western European countries. However, as these countries reach a saturation point in their capacity to receive refugees, more negative sentiment may naturally manifest. Our church partners in Eastern Europe are making contingency plans to accommodate and resettle more refugees locally, long-term.
- Pastor and church planter Oleksii Makaiov wrote this note of encouragement to us all on Easter Sunday: “Today, when our little son was asked if he knew what Easter meant, he confidently said, ‘This means that Jesus has won!’ Yes, friends, Jesus has won and today we celebrate the victory of life over death, victory of light over darkness! And though we may be in the midst of destruction and pain today, our true victory is in Jesus, who has risen indeed! Many Ukrainians filled the churches in the countries where they have fled for refuge. Together with the local Christians, they proclaim this wonderful news of the resurrection of Christ. May this message reach all residents of Ukraine; may we all say once more to each other, ‘Christ has risen! He has risen indeed! Jesus has won!’”
- Oleksii reports that in the last ten days they have transported over 20 tons of food and essentials. They are loading supplies in Western Ukraine and then delivering to the eastern regions of the country. They continue to help evacuate people of the cities of Molochansk, Berdyansk and Balkovoe.
- A new shelter has been opened in Mukachevo, Western Ukraine, with volunteers gathering furniture, household items, washer/dryer, stove/fridge, heater, linens and beds to accommodate the constant influx of refugees.
- Medical supplies and cash for the purchase of food are being provided to the people of Molochansk and Tokmak. Despite the difficult circumstances of the occupation, elderly women who have chosen to remain behind continue to prepare vareniki and pack care packages for the disabled and other vulnerable people.
- MB church leaders and volunteers in Novomoskovsk have been serving families in crisis, bringing them food packages and words of hope and encouragement. In Kiev, our MB pastors and volunteers are working together with government social services of that city to respond to the needs of people in unimaginably difficult circumstances.
- In one of the churches of the city of Dnipro, a center for refugees has been organized. Every day, 50-70 people are being brought there from the occupied regions of Ukraine. Our MB pastors and their teams are delivering mattresses and food to this center.
- Regional Team Leader Johann Matthies was asked to speak at a church in Bielefeld, Germany, translating for the Ukrainian attendees. He also reports, “Praise the Lord, we haven’t lost any one of our church members yet! We pray all stay alive and are kept alive to be God’s Instruments of peace – during the war and afterwards!”