Ukraine (BGR/MNN) — Though it’s been dominating world news headlines, last week’s Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 crash isn’t the only big thing happening in Ukraine. Baptist Global Response partners say between 30 and 40 new refugees are arriving daily at a church in Kharkov, Ukraine from towns taken over by separatists.
Earlier this month, the United Nations reported that at least 42,000 people have been internally displaced by violence in eastern Ukraine. Another 18,650 Ukrainians were reportedly living in temporary housing in Russia, and 7,000 had been transferred to cities away from the border.
Many displaced families left eastern Ukraine with only the clothes on their backs. Churches and local believers are doing what they can to provide food, shelter ,and most importantly, the hope of Christ.
BGR and its humanitarian partners in the region are coming alongside those churches to provide desperately-needed resources. Using $1,000 from Global Hunger Relief and $4,000 in Southern Baptist general relief funds, they are providing food, baby products, toiletries, bedding, cots/beds, and in some cases, refrigerators, where churches have no way to keep food stores cold.
In the initial stages of the relief effort, BGR will work with a group organized from local churches to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of displaced families as they come to churches for assistance, the BGR partner in Ukraine said. Workers also will seek to identify other resources available from the government or local community.
The BGR partner asks people who care about this situation to pray:
“Intercede for those who are trying to find safe passage from areas of conflict to other regions of the country, for the love of Christ to compel believers throughout the Kharkov region to give sacrificially to provide for those fleeing their homes,” the partner said.
“Pray for the Lord’s provision to meet the needs of those who have left their homes and jobs to protect their families. Pray for hearts to be drawn into a personal relationship with Jesus as His love is displayed through His people in the Kharkov region.”
Churches in Kharkov are uniting their efforts to try to help meet refugee needs, but many of those churches exhausted their limited financial resources in the first month of relief efforts. No one knows how long the crisis might last, and churches may need to assist some displaced families until the conflict ends or those families are able to move on. If the crisis extends into winter, the needs will be magnified.