Churches in Ukraine overwhelmed but not without help

By September 18, 2014
"I Care" packages provide scripture to families and enough food for a week (Photo courtesy of Russian Ministries)

“I Care” packages provide Scripture to families
and enough food for a week.
(Photo courtesy of Russian Ministries)

Ukraine (MNN) — Humans are constantly trying to make sense of the madness in this world. Part of our mode of dealing with chaos is to fight it with organization and planning.

Russian Ministries is at a point where they can begin to fight the madness in the Ukraine crisis with a plan.

Mark Papierski of Russian Ministries describes the current state of events in Ukraine: “Right now the Ukrainian government doesn’t even have enough resources to feed their own soldiers. So when you look at the refugee crisis, which back in March was just the 11,000-12,000 Tatars from Crimea that were going over the border, [the number] now has increased to over 260,000 refugees from Eastern Ukraine that are going into Western Ukraine.

“And the only source for help is the evangelical church that we’re working with.”

The churches of Ukraine were overwhelmed at the beginning.

Papierski says, “The crisis, as you know, was very unexpected. There wasn’t a lot of preparation or even training for these people at the initial stages. And so they were overwhelmed with, first of all, just meeting physical needs.”

That’s why Russian Ministries started the “I Care” program which provides refugee families with a week’s supply of food, and also with Scripture. The churches have also been providing basic psychological counseling, but as the violence continues, Russian Ministries can see it is not enough.

“The people are dealing with stress, anxiety, a whole bunch of other things that the pastors really haven’t been able to prepare for,” Papierski says. “So we’re preparing training sessions that will help them identify what Post Traumatic Stress syndrome is, how to help with basic psychological needs, but then also provide resources for helping [people] find jobs, helping them find lost love ones, helping them deal with the grief that they’ve experienced.”

Basically, Russian Ministries’ plan of attack fits into three phases that align themselves with three goals: “The initial goal is relief: to stop the bleeding, to help with basic needs. Then the second goal would be to help with rehabilitation: get them back to where they were before the crisis happened. And then work on the development: so, spiritual formation.”

Spiritual formation takes the form of pastoral and biblical counseling that will help these refugees mature in their faith, or maybe encounter Christ for the first time.

“A lot of the people coming have no church background and wouldn’t step into an evangelical church before this crisis happened. But now after they’ve been loved on and fed and cared for, then after the physical needs are met, then you can work on the spiritual needs,” says Papierski.

On October 9 and 10, Papierski and a team will head to Ukraine to train 25 local pastors for this spiritual formation.

After this “test” round of training, they will revise the handbooks and material and send them out to the 500 churches Russian Ministries is partnered with throughout Ukraine.

And after that, they hope to send the material out to the 2500 graduates of School Without Walls scattered throughout 12 countries and 65 locations of the former Soviet Union.

How can you help?

Pray for these families to find comfort in the truth of the Gospel of Jesus. Pray for healing, both emotionally and physically.

You can also give $20 to provide a pastor with a translated version of Caring for Souls by Dr. Harry Shields. This is part of the spiritual formation material that will be used to train evangelical pastors.

To support this book, or to supply a box of food and Scripture, give to the “I Care” program here.

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