Ukrainian relief efforts spotlight ‘better together’ mantra

Daniel Fodorean of the Baptist Theological Institute of Bucharest shares about the work being done in Romania to assist Ukrainian “guests” while in Alabama in late March. (Photo by Jennifer Davis Rash)

War, destruction, human suffering — it can be too much to take some days. At the same time, moments of crisis also provide an opportunity to shine the light of Christ brightly amid the harrowing darkness suffocating so many around the world.

Matthew 5:14–16 tells us, “You are the light of the world. … let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Have you noticed all the faith-based ministries that sprang into action the minute Ukrainians found themselves displaced?

The consistent call for prayers and pleas for financial assistance also showcase the enormous support pouring in from around the world. 

Opportunities for support are available through our churches, associations, state conventions, national ministries and global partners.

Courage and compassion

And how about the courage and compassion shown by Baptist leaders in Ukraine and the surrounding nations who are committed to caring for those whose lives are forever changed.

What I didn’t understand until recently was the depth of distrust and dislike between Ukrainians and some of its neighbors, especially those in Romania.

Yet, people in Romania are among those pushing through the exhaustion, day after day, to provide the “guests” passing through with food, clothing and a safe place to sleep.

While some Ukrainians have stayed in Romania, most of the refugees are on their way to other places, explained Daniel Fodorean, academic dean at the Baptist Theological Institute of Bucharest.

The seminary and churches are housing the guests, and many people are making rooms available at their homes, he said. 

An app-based network for Romanian Baptist church leaders also dings nonstop with needs, which are covered within minutes by someone on the app, Fodorean shared as he and I talked March 22 in Alabama.

Fodorean was in the U.S. for a previously scheduled meeting related to his work with the Romanian-American Mission and took some time to provide a glimpse of the efforts in his country.

“It’s not natural to help Ukrainians because they were mean to Romanians (during past conflicts), but we see the need,” he shared. “We need to show mercy. God said to love one another.”

Efforts also are strong in Moldova, Poland and within Ukraine. Many pastors and ministry leaders are choosing to remain with those surrounded by gunfire and attacks, Fodorean said.

“Love is important and center,” he said. “The most important thing is the kingdom of God.”

On the front lines

Elijah Brown, general secretary and CEO of Baptist World Alliance, shared similar reflections of the work taking place among Baptists on the front lines.

During a March 17 presentation in Birmingham, he described a variety of ministry efforts organized by Baptist churches in the region.

“In the first six days of this war, 600 (of the 2,100) Baptist churches (in Ukraine) provided basic food and humanitarian relief, helping 45,000 people who had been displaced by war,” he said. “But they can’t do it alone.”

Brown asks Baptists to pray for the people of Ukraine. To write out prayers that will be shared with Baptist leaders on the ground in Ukraine, visit baptistworld.org/shareaprayer.

Our brothers and sisters in Christ are standing strong and demonstrating His love boldly. They need our prayers and to know they are not forgotten. 

We hope our continued coverage through The Alabama Baptist and The Baptist Paper helps keep those serving in and around Ukraine in the forefront of your mind not only as they focus on mere survival in the moment but also as they attempt to pick up the pieces once the war is over.

Southern Baptist efforts

The communications team from the International Mission Board has been a tremendous help as we pull together coverage day after day.

IMB officials also confirmed Southern Baptists’ efforts through Send Relief include working with local Baptist partners in Ukraine and other nations in Eastern Europe.

We applaud Southern Baptist leaders for choosing to partner with area Baptists in the work.

“These relief efforts include providing food, shelter, transportation, clothing, medical supplies and trauma care to families displaced from Ukraine, as well as Ukrainians internally displaced in the country,” the IMB reports. “And 100 percent of the gifts to [the] Ukraine Crisis Fund are being used to help Ukrainian refugees.” 

Options for donating to relief efforts for Ukraine can be found through numerous channels, including the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions at alsbom.org/ukraine.

Teams of Alabama Baptists are beginning to organize for trips to Romania and other Eastern European countries in April and May. To read more about the current and upcoming efforts in Romania, check out this article in The Alabama Baptist.

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