SGA responds to growing number of Ukrainian refugees

By June 30, 2015
The fighting in eastern Ukraine has shattered the lives of many, and has resulted in thousands of refugees. (Photo and caption courtesy of Slavic Gospel Association).

The fighting in eastern Ukraine has shattered the lives of many, and has resulted in thousands of refugees. (Photo and caption courtesy of Slavic Gospel Association).

Ukraine (MNN) — Over 900,000 Ukrainians have fled the country, according to a recent report by the UN refugee agency. Many are seeking asylum in neighboring countries, with 80% staying in Russia. The UNHCR also said that as of June 25, there were over 1,300,000 internally displaced people in Ukraine registered by the Ministry of Social Policy.

Although the violence has subsided in recent months, life hasn’t gotten any easier for Ukrainians. Many lost their homes in the conflict, and the economy is in disarray.

But through the help of Slavic Gospel Association, some are finding hope. SGA provides support through its Crisis Evangelism Fund, which gives pastors resources to distribute from their churches. It provides food, water, clothing, bedding, Bibles, and other Christian material to meet needs and help victims find a lasting peace.

“We’ve been doing two things. One: we’ve been prioritizing taking care of church members from our partner churches,” says Bret Laird, an SGA missionary. “We work very closely with the Ukrainian Baptist Union. It has about 1,500 churches, and many of those churches in the East have really suffered as a result of the war. Some have been destroyed by direct shellfire; thousands of believers have been forced to flee, so we’ve been trying to help them get resettled.

Two: “We’ve been working with local churches to reach out to the unbelieving population with the gospel, and we’re taking care of their physical needs.”

SGA’s connection with Ukrainian churches plays a key role in successful outreach. International organizations like the American Red Cross don’t have a local distribution network–they hire staff members to bring aid. But SGA’s relationship with Ukrainian pastors allows the organization to more effectively meet spiritual and physical needs.

(Photo courtesy of SGA)

(Photo courtesy of SGA)

“When aid is given through us, it goes to those who are most in need, and it’s distributed in a very targeted fashion,” Laird says. “We have lists of families with how much medicine they need, how much coal they need, how much food they need.

“We believe it doesn’t do a whole lot of good to make people’s earthly life a little better if we don’t do anything about their eternal destiny,” Laird says. “So distributing through the local church is the only way to ensure that people are getting spiritual bread as well as physical.”

Laird hopes that as the Ukraine crisis has become less prevalent in the news, people don’t diminish the urgency of the situation. Victims are still suffering, and the need is still great.

“What we would really like people to understand is that it’s not always immediately after the major battles are fought that the real needs come to bear,” Laird says. “A lot of the people who have been displaced: their homes are destroyed, the economy is completely a wreck. These needs are going to be ongoing, and so we really hope people will take the long view.”

Laird asks for prayer support. The conflict is seemingly winding down, so pray that the decline would continue. Pray also for safety and wisdom for missionaries in Ukraine, and that war victims would come to know the true peace found in Christ.

You can also support SGA financially. Click here to donate to SGA’s Crisis Evangelism Fund.

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