Reporting on the recent military invasion of Ukraine, the media tells the plight daily of hundreds of thousands of people, primarily women and children, who have been forced to flee their homes. Talking with those on the ground, International Cooperating Ministries, the Global Church Developer, has found that these refugees are seeking safety and fleeing to surrounding countries, including Moldova, Belarus, Poland, Romania and even Russia.
How Is the Church Responding?
In light of the recent crisis, Paul Hagelgans, field director for Bible Mission Global, a ministry partner with ICM, provided an update on the response of the church in Ukraine and surrounding countries Tuesday to the ICM leadership. "I am thankful that the church has moved efficiently and quickly. They are giving selflessly to provide much-needed resources. They are taking in thousands of people daily and providing help, not just in their church buildings but also in their homes. Not only are they meeting physical needs but sharing the gospel as well."
As Hagelgans is quick to interject, "No one is sure what will happen tomorrow."
He says the people of Ukraine did not believe war would happen. A nation in shock, they were hoping the leaders would find diplomatic solutions. But Bible Mission Europe staff prepared papers, and most of the staff and their families were evacuated. However, several chose to stay in Kyiv because they wanted to protect homes and churches. Looters are running rampant, and food is being sold on the black market at extremely high prices.
With airports closed, Hagelgans was delayed in Moldova as the war began. He quickly started organizing food relief programs, gathering thousands of pounds of aid for the refugees. As of March 1, he headed to the southern border of Ukraine, taking trucks loaded with food, clothing and other necessities. Going with several other men, all of whom are unarmed, they are desperately asking God for protection. Unfortunately, armed people with bad intentions are stopping these humanitarian convoys, taking their food and harming drivers.
Keith Townsend, ICM's director for Russia and former Soviet Republics, states, "Amid this crisis, there are things to do. As the church, we provide shelter, food, warm blankets and share with them the hope of the gospel." This has been the mission of ICM, as the organization has partnered over the years with mission organizations, building churches and hope centers all over the world. Not only has ICM helped with physical buildings, but it has also provided training of the gospel that is pivotal at this very moment in history. In Ukraine, since 2006, ICM has built a total of 100 churches and 18 hope centers, with two more currently in progress. These churches have planted 160 additional churches.
These churches in Ukraine, along with many built by ICM in the surrounding countries, are making tremendous sacrifices by opening their churches' doors and homes for refugees and giving all their resources. Hagelgans explains, "Since this crisis began, local churches have come together to help with a church camp that ICM helped build in Moldova that is now overflowing with refugees. We are thankful for how quickly the churches and hope centers were organized to provide much-needed help."
'But the Need Is Still Great'
The church in the West can help by praying daily, every hour, for the brothers and sisters in Ukraine. As they are running out of food and clothing, not just in Ukraine but in these other countries, the church in the West can donate to help provide the needed food.
Hagelgans concludes, "Politics does not matter. The church is doing the right thing in these surrounding cities and countries. The gospel is being proclaimed."
Giving link for Ukraine: icm.org/donate/ukraine/.
Prayer Guide for Ukraine
ICM's CEO and President Janice Allen Rosser prays, "Our hearts are heavy as we hear the news of the tragedies. We fall on our knees and ask what is happening. It is hard to make sense. You, God, are sovereign, and You are in control. We see through a glass dimly. You use all things to bring glory to You. Open our hearts and minds to hear what we need to hear from You to know how to pray and to support."
Request from Paul Hagelangs, field director for Bible Mission Europe:
— Praise God for the churches' response in Ukraine, Moldova, Romain and Russia!
— Pray that God will continue to use the church to bring the message of hope in the hopeless time.
— Pray that the gospel will be received.
— God calls us to be peacemakers. Pray for peace. Guide all the political leaders to find a way to make an agreement.
— Pray God will provide the resources.
— Please pray for safety.
— Pray that God will protect all His resources that He provides. Right now, when bringing big trucks and food, bandits are taking food. We don't have a way to protect our transportation. We do not take weapons. God will send His angels to protect the food for these people surrounding us.
— Pray for the Russian army who are conscripted and drafted. There are believers who don't get to be conscientious objectors, who don't want to be there. There are Ukrainian believers who don't want to kill Russians. This is difficult, so please pray for them.
Townsend adds this prayer: "Father God, we do not know where to look, but our eyes are on You. Your words shine on this time of darkness of evil in the world. Your people are standing during deprivation and terror. We do not understand in the midst of the evil how and why, but we trust You to overcome and Your will be done. Many will come to faith in Jesus for eternity. Lord, strengthen Your people. May the things which are planned for evil be used for good, even for millions of people in a skeptical and watching world."
For three decades, ICM has partnered with ministries in developing countries to build churches and hope centers, train pastors and disciple believers. This pioneering organization empowers local churches to be the catalyst for community transformation. ICM also provides Bible study materials that equip pastors and nurture, sustain and help new believers grow in their faith.
Since the ministry started, over 44,000 churches have been planted and built in 100 nations. The Bible teaching in 59 languages (and growing) is available in a variety of delivery formats. It equips local pastors and lay leaders to share the Word of God in a simple and heartfelt way. Almost two million believers have been trained using this Bible teaching. For more information, please visit ICM.org.
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