This article was originally published in the June 2022 edition of ITMI Monthly.
I underestimated the range of emotions that would confront me on my recent trip to Poland, Romania, and Ukraine.
I underestimated the range of emotions that would confront me on my recent trip to Poland, Romania, and Ukraine. Having been in refugee camps in both South Sudan and Ukraine, and ministering in the slums of India, left me unprepared somehow for what the Ukrainian war was going to expose me to.
As much as human and physical needs are vitally important, my deep passion is to see and be a part of helping people move toward and deal with their eternal needs. Humanitarian help must, as soon as possible, be part of a process that connects it to an eternal Kingdom purpose.
This trip to visit and observe our faithful ITMI partners in Poland and Romania showed me that the Ukrainian refugees and those caring for them are still in “crisis mode”. The war and its fallout is very fresh and raw in the lives of those experiencing the repercussions.
It is raw for both those serving refugees in ways far above what could be expected, and for the refugees themselves, the now homeless, completely dependent, family-broken, emotional, and isolated in a country whose language and culture is not their own.
The weight of their circumstances - the consequences of one man deciding he wanted more real estate and didn’t care how many lives he destroyed to get what he wanted - are seen in the eyes and the expressions of each refugee, who in Poland, are almost all women and children.
They bear the evidence of what a mind reeling from too much to process does to someone’s emotions and health.
The caregivers helping them are not immune to these consequences. They too have faces that now reflect the weight of helping those that God has placed before them. Pastors and church leaders seeking to comfort and assist the “single” women, mothers, wives and grandmothers now in a strange country with only what they could carry.
We in the States have our television news, our social media, our YouTube, and the internet to see and hear what is going on in Eastern Europe. We even hear bits and pieces of the damage to individuals as a result of this conflict. None of our electronic media can come close to actually being there - experiencing it firsthand.
Even visiting it and being immersed for a month is not the same as living it day after day after day.
If you had been with me on this trip you would have been so incredibly proud of the ITMI partners. They have, with all their other vital, Kingdom building, life-changing ministry responsibilities, just willingly and wholeheartedly embraced the immediate needs, the tattered emotions, the opportunities to be the comforting hand of Jesus to the many, many that are flooding in from their homes and places of insecurity and danger to places and states unknown.
Each of our partners are addressing the consequences and needs of the war in different ways. The two overall categories of serving Ukrainians are (1) helping the refugees that have left Ukraine and need almost everything just to do life, and (2) helping those that remain in Ukraine, either because they cannot leave or want to stay in effort to save their home and community.
Piotr Zaremba, Andrew Gorski, Jim Larose, Leszek Wakula, Janusz Fredyk, and Bread of Life are primarily living and breathing the intense daily tasks of care for the refugees that have run to Poland. Adi and Ema Ban are deep into acquiring and transporting supplies to the Ukrainian pastors who have stayed behind to meet the critical needs of the church and the option-less left behind in Ukraine.
We are too far away from the war and the consequences to really fully grasp and understand how great the need is and even more important, how great the opportunity is to show Jesus to a nation of hurting and attentive souls.
We as the church in America, Europe, Asia, and even Africa, cannot miss this opportunity to come alongside godly servants of God who are on the frontlines of this brokenness, willingly pouring themselves out to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the traumatized and broken.
If you are moved to help these precious servants, I can assure you that your sacrificial gifts will go directly to those people and places that are most needy. We will be partnering to empower those that have proven their love for the Lord and their love for those that He loves dearly. We can’t miss this opportunity- this opportunity that God has provided to share His love, His truth, and His hope.
God bless all of you who have helped us help in Eastern Europe to this point. Will you ask the Lord if He is leading you to trust Him to step out and again care for our brothers and sisters who are on the frontline? Thank you and blessings.
In His Service,
About the Author
Steve Evers has advocated for and served the ITMI partners as ITMI Director since 2001. Approximately once a year, Steve visits with ITMI partners in their countries and brings stories back to encourage supporters. Steve enjoys photography and mechanics, (both hobbies that have greatly benefited ITMI partners!) Prior to becoming ITMI's Director, Steve served on the Board of Directors for 4 years. Steve lives in Arizona with his wife, Darlene.
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