- Our global worker D who serves churches in Austria and Central Asia has taken a lead role in mobilizing the Austrian MB churches toward Ukraine relief efforts. One of the results is being able to now support the ministries of Sergey and Dima, two brothers from the Ukraine MB conference who lost their jobs due to the war.
- Two trips from Linz brought three large vanloads of provision and medical supplies to the Ukraine border for distribution by the Ukraine MB pastors. With remaining fund, a third trip is planned; the goal is to continue with these initiatives as frequently as possible.
- Church planter Sergey is one of the men who shuttles supplies between the Hungarian border and the embattled capital Kyiv. Each trip is more difficult than the last, as he continues to bring provisions, evacuate the vulnerable, connect with church members and bring the hope of the Gospel to all.
- Multiply Europe director Johann Matthies joined Walter Jakobeit (local pastor leader of the German MB conference) at a peace rally for Ukraine in Neuwied. There, they gave a call for intercession and led the gathering in a prayer for peace. In attendance were also two men who came to Germany in 2015 as refugees from Afghanistan and Iran, who are now baptized church members. Together, they joined in the peaceful demonstrations and in prayer.
- Sergey Panasovych, an MB pastor in Zaporizhzhya, shares how the widespread destruction is weighing on him, and on so many. Like others who have stayed behind, he misses his wife and daughter, but is grateful that they have found safety and a warm welcome in Bielefeld.
- In the MB church in Dortmund, a gathering of two Ukrainian families to pray and read God’s Word has now grown into a gathering of fifty-five people.
- Over the last few days, the European (MB) church delivered two more vans of relief goods to Ukraine and brought 13 more MB refugees to Germany. Another van was purchased in Germany to widen one of the logistical bottlenecks of our European Multiply office operations.
- ‘Two more vans with relief goods and funds from our Austrian MB churches were taken by Multiply’s Dave Berg and other volunteers to the border, and a van from the Netherlands unloaded supplies in a storage place in Hungary near the Ukraine border. The work continues to be focussed; our churches are neither exhausted nor without a plan.
- Pastor Oleksii reports on families fleeing the shelling and ruins of Mariupol to arrive in Molochansk, which is now occupied territory. Residents are challenged to meet the needs of these refugees, with food deliveries being blocked and their own meager resources being stretched to the limit. Grandmothers from the nearby MB nursing home are coming together to make dumplings and feed the hungry. The church is working tirelessly; the pace is relentless.
- Multiply worker G from Central Asia is helping to expand our ministries beyond the Ukraine borders along Poland and Hungary to now include relief efforts in Romania, his country of origin, and Moldova. We are partnering with other MB churches to strengthen relief being provided through a small church in Romania, where his brother-in-law pastors, near the Ukraine-Romania border.
- To address the increased workload, Multiply Ukraine and the Association of MB Churches in Ukraine (AMBCU) are now supporting MB church planters Sergei F. (Kyiv) and Dima M. (Dnipro) to work full-time within Ukraine. Both are newlywed; their wives are living as refugees in Heinrich and Annie Rempel’s home in Bielefeld.
- New Hope Center director Maxym O. reports that as they care for families in crisis, they see Ukraine divided into two large groups: those who remain in their homeland are in a state of fear and stress every day; those who left Ukraine are physically safe but feel great guilt. All suffer great emotional pain and trauma.
- Sigitas Rušinskas from our MB churches in Lithuania has coordinated a team bringing humanitarian support across the Hungary border to western Ukraine. The team of six men kept the minibus running, dropping off food, cash, and other provisions from village to village, then picking up three women from a refugee center and driving back to Lithuania.
- “Many lives have been lost in Ukraine, but many more have been spared,” said Johann Matthies. As Multiply’s Regional Team Leader, Johann is based in Germany and remains actively involved in the war relief efforts in Ukraine and among surrounding countries.
- Pastors Maxym and Anya are still in Zaporizhzhia, though fighting increases and several more civilians were killed by shelling over the weekend. Their New Hope Center team is shrinking as people continue to flee the area, but they are still in operation, using their office as an emergency shelter for families. They installed a shower and are using bedding left over from their camping ministries and aged-out-orphan programs.
- MB church planters Sergey (Kyiv) and Oleksii (Dnipro) brought a van full of urgently needed supplies to Zaporizhzhia from the border.
- The number of refugees from our Ukrainian MB churches who are now being hosted in Germany is at 67. There is a well-coordinated inter-church relief effort in Detmold, and the Mennonite churches in Austria have also been mobilized for the next trip to the border.
- Urgently needed cash is being brought across the border for essential purchases and transportation within Ukraine.
- The daughter of one MB pastor in Ukraine is safe in Germany and speaks of the complex emotions faced by the refugees: “During war, smiles seem inappropriate, and beautiful places seem to be a reason for envy. I would like to enjoy the sun on my native land, being fully confident about tomorrow. But I only have this moment; a state of calm that I can’t explain. It’s not permanent. But when it fills me, hope comes
- Yesterday, we heard the terrible news that Russian missiles are now hitting civilian targets in Zaporizhzhia, but the worst news of the day was about the bombing of a theater in Mariupol where some 1500 women and children were seeking shelter in the basement. We do not yet know the full extent of the damage done or the lives lost.
- As Johann Matthies, our Regional Team Leader, reflects today on the war in Ukraine, he says, “This is the result of decades of slander and dehumanization of the Ukrainian state, the Ukrainian language, and the Ukrainian culture. It has been a battle of words, evil words, and this is what we must fight against.”
- Two Multiply workers, Alex Suderman from Germany, and G from Central Asia, recently visited Romania and Moldova to visit churches in the area that are helping Ukrainian refugees as they flee from the war. “We were very encouraged to see the amount of dedication to the crisis,” they reported. “Practically every church or ministry is involved in doing something for the refugees.”
- Alex and G were able to meet with numerous local leaders and pastors in both Romania and Moldova to offer encouragement, to discuss longer-term planning and the refugee management crisis cycle, and to offer elements of psychological first aid. Photo to the right shows a makeshift refugee shelter near the Ukrainian border in Romania.
- It was noted by Alex and G that the Romanian and Moldovan churches only have limited resources to meet the high needs of this relief effort. They expect that fatigue and lack of funding will soon take its toll on local initiatives. Moldova, with its close proximity to Ukraine and its similarities in language and culture, is a welcome refuge for those fleeing from the war, but its current hosting facilities will soon be overwhelmed by the need.
- In both Romania and Moldova, there are many opportunities for Multiply to partner with existing churches and ministries that are making a real difference in the lives of refugees. Alex and G explored various ways that volunteers and funds can be directed to meet both immediate and long-term needs, not only in areas of practical ministry but also in discipleship and church planting.
- The situation in the occupied areas is deteriorating, with Ukrainian public figures, such as politicians and priests, being abducted and disappearing. There is uncertainty as to whether the churches will be able to keep gathering and ministering in the face of new repression. We are now opting to use first initials only when posting regarding our workers and church leaders in Ukraine.
- Pastor V and his wife in Kherson report that the city is now almost completely under Russian control. They have both been sick, and Nadya is expecting to deliver her baby any day now.
- Pastor A in Berdyansk reports that many families escaping from Mariupol are arriving at his church to seek shelter. They come in cars without windshields or glass, driving long hours in the bitter cold.
- Ukraine MB conference leader R in Zaporizhye is helping to coordinate the evacuation of refugees to Germany. Johann Matthies reports that churches in cities like Frankfurt are collaborating to help with resettlement. The total number of people hosted by our German MB churches and families is over 50, of whom, tragically, there are only two men.
- Church leaders remaining in Ukraine are struggling to provide shelter, food, medicine, and water for those fleeing the conflict. They are partnering closely with the European Mennonite Relief Organization (EMRO) as well as Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) to strengthen the network of those handling emergency relief.
- We still have staff and programs running even now. As of today, six staff are still working in our New Hope Center – even applying yesterday for a long-term grant that will allow them to continue this ministry for the years to come!
- We have provided 4WD off-road vehicles for Sergei and Oleg, the two MB pastors who are also army chaplains.
- We will continue to bring supplies in for as long as humanly possible to allow our ministries to stay operational.
- Johann Matthies, our Regional Team Leader, reports that more and more refugees from Ukraine are arriving in Germany: “More people are now in safety,” he said. “Volunteers in two vans brought some to our church in Detmold, right before our Sunday service! We now have eighteen Ukrainians in our church.” The photo to the right includes Johann’s daughter-in-law (with glasses) with Nastya from Berdyansk, worshipping for the first time since fleeing from Ukraine.
- Heinrich Rempel, Johann’s Multiply co-worker, gathered refugees in the Bielefeld area to the first worship service in Russian and Ukrainian. Some thirty people came together to give thanks to God and remind each other that they are a family of faith on mission together, preparing to be sent to out to the harvest.
- Johann asks us to pray for local churches in Germany that are embracing the challenge of hosting refugees, despite all of the practical questions that they face, like, “Who will walk alongside all the refugees through all their bureaucratic challenges? Do we have a budget to help them make a new life in Germany? Who will take responsibility for them?”
- Sergei, one of the MB pastors who is also serving as a chaplain among the soldiers, officiated a marriage ceremony for a young couple yesterday. “It is a testimony that love is stronger than war,” said Sergei, “even stronger than death!” (The newly married couple are in the photo to the right.)
- Johann reports a difficult conversation with a woman named Julia, who is hiding in the bunker of a steel plant in Avdeevka, near Donetsk. She says, “Our city is being hit. Our food supermarket is hit. My brother and sister are being shelled. All of the windows and doors in my brother’s apartment have been blown out. The apartments above his are now burning.”
- Pray for the 1200 people still trapped under the rubble of the bombed theatre in Mariupol, where intense street fighting is hindering rescue efforts.
- Pray for the safety of the New Hope Center team and pastors Maxym and Anya, working to shelter and provide for displaced families in Zaporizhzhia for as long as they can.
- Pray for grace and capacity for those churches and families providing placement for refugees in Germany and elsewhere.
- Praise God for the unity and collaboration that is being displayed among churches across Europe and around the world that are hosting and helping Ukrainian refugees.
- Pray for the Ukrainian refugees, processing grief, trauma, and survivor’s guilt.
- Pray for the delivery of urgently needed supplies and cash.
- Pray for peace.