After weeks of escalating tensions, on February 24, Russia orchestrated a military invasion of Ukraine. Millions of people have fled their homes to neighboring countries, the capital of Kyiv as well as neighboring cities are under siege and thousands are sheltering in any place of safety they can find.
To all the Ukrainians and Ukrainian Americans in our church family and our region, we love and see you. We feel this pain and heartache with you because your story is our story. With a number of Ukrainian families (and pastoral staff) in our immediate church community we have made the clear decision to prioritize our relief work here.
On Sunday March 13 our church raised over $21,000, with an additional $5,000 coming in the following week bringing our current number to $26,000.
We are currently working with multiple partners on the ground in Ukraine & Poland (where 2.6 million refugees have fled too) by providing human and financial resources for vehicles, medical supplies, counseling, food, and pastoral care. You can read some of our updates on trips, resource allocation, and connections below.
There are four ways to join us in this work:
- GIVE: current projects include 1) the purchase of van to help get supplies into some of the hardest hit areas and get folks out 2) purchasing medical supplies 3) resourcing the next trip to polish refugee camps.
- GO: travel with one of our teams to Poland
- HOST: house Ukrainian refugees here in the US
- PRAY: “to clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.” – Barth
[March 29, 2022]
Poland Trip & First Wave of Resource Allocation
- Arrived late Wednesday afternoon – prepared to just help as needed. Sit with parents. Help process & listen.
- Jumped in right away to help the staff/volunteers with serving meals, kitchen tasks, and meal cleanup.
- One need that became evident right away was something for the kids to do during the week. We gathered the kids in the afternoons and some evenings to do some games and some intentional crafts designed to help them process a bit of what they experienced and regain a sense of self and hope in the midst of challenging times.
- Spending time with the kids in the afternoons gave the parents some space to rest and process their own experiences. Multiple parents came up throughout the week mentioning how grateful they were that we were investing in their kids and giving them some space.
- One mom, upon hearing that Brit was a trauma trained counselor asked to meet with her individually to discuss some challenges her kids were experiencing.
- As we got to know the kids more, we got opportunities to then connect with their parents during meals and throughout the facility.
- On our last day in Lodz we were able to host a Workshop for the parents. Brit was able to help them process through what they were seeing and experiencing with their children as well as work together to figure out how to care for them after this kind of trauma.
- One of our secondary goals was to try and make a few connections in Poland to learn what the church was doing as well as understand what future trips could look like.
- We met with Pastor Misha for an hour and a half one morning and listened as he shared how their ministry has radically changed over the past year.
- Misha’s church has a three-pronged approach to Refugees:
- (1) Housing & Immediate needs for those coming into Warsaw.
- (2) Food, Medicine, and Resources back into Ukraine.
- (3) Spiritual care for those they encounter.
- The church has provided temporary housing for over 1,600 refugees in Warsaw.
- In addition they provide around 100 hot meals per day from a local cafeteria, which subsidized the cost down to a few dollars per meal.
- Sanctuary Church & GCCR purchased 600 meals for them ($3,000)
- The one immediate need that became evident from this meeting was a Box Truck to send supplies back into Ukraine.
- The church was renting trucks at $400/week while a Box Truck costs only $14,000.
- Sanctuary church contributed $3,000 towards this need. GCCR + two other Virginia churches raised the remaining $11,000.
- Misha mentioned that their church could use a team of specialists (doctors, therapists, etc.) to help provide care for the refugees there.
- Misha was able to help us make contact with another pastor in Chelm (near the Ukrainian border).
- Met Pastor Henryk whose church is part of the same network as Misha.
- Chelm is the first city over the Polish/Ukrainian border so almost everyone entering Ukraine makes a stop here. Many need a place to sleep for a night or two.
- Pastor Henryk’s church removed the pews from their sanctuary & placed cots all throughout the sanctuary and multiple Sunday school rooms.
- On an average night they provide a place to sleep for up to 220 people and have served over 3,000 already.
- For those trying to stay near by, Pastor Henryk’s team helps them find more permanent housing
- In addition to helping provide a temporary shelter, Henryk’s church rented out a large warehouse to store, process, & distribute supplies going back into Ukraine.
- Henryk said that his team is able to send one pallet full of produce & dry food goods back into Ukraine for $800 which is able to feed around 100 people for a week.
- Sanctuary & GCCR gave $1000 to help purchase a pallet and help pay for gas to get it to Ukraine.
- Henryk mentioned that their church could use a team of laborers to help load and unload the warehouse.
Big Wins from the Poland Trip:
- The programs for the kids allowed us to create an environment where the kids got to have some fun while also thinking through things that make them feel safe and loved.
- The time with the kids opened up doors to sit with and listen to the parents as they shared what they experienced.
- Brit’s expertise allowed her to have two separate therapeutic moments with the parents.
- The Word of Life staff team was able to take a few days to rest and catch their breath while we helped care for the refugees.
- Purchased 600 meals for refugees in Warsaw.
- Contributed $3,000 towards truck for supplies.
- Purchased one week of groceries for 100 people remaining in Ukraine.
- Purchased and brought over three bags of supplies with us while traveling there.
- Potential for two more teams to return to Poland in the immediate future.
- Two Virginia churches got involved as a result of this trip.
- One Florida church heard of our trip and is actively putting a team together to partner with us.
- One RI church in Warwick saw the stories on social media and is eager to step in and help.
- Sanctuary Church has the potential to be a central mobilizer for more refugee work in the future.
- Total trip for 4 people ended up costing Sanctuary around $3,000.
On Sunday we’ll have pre-made boxes filled with a variety of Ukrainian baked goods for our Ukrainian Relief Fund.
Who is making them?
Our Sanctuary Ukrainian family and their families!!
Where is the money going?
1. UKRAINIAN OUTPOST
We have recently gotten connected to a church in Lutsk, Ukraine whose pastor is the uncle of many Ukrainians in our church. This church is also linked in with World Help, an organization we have been connected with since the beginning of the war.
This church is on the front lines. Currently they are hosting and assisting fleeing refugees, making and delivering packages of food and supplies (like diapers, formula, etc) to war torn areas, and hosting locals in the church basement during air raid sirens. This is entirely unique and powerful opportunity for us to affect meaningful and immediate aid to our brothers and sisters in Ukraine.
In addition to purchasing supplies we will be contributing to the creation of amore secure means (better vans and full-time drivers) of getting supplies into the country.
2. A PASTORAL CARE MISSION TRIP
We have been asked by a refugee camp in Poland to bring a small group of pastors, translators and trauma counselors from our church to spend time sitting, listening, and praying with those who have recently fled the war. This group leaves on Tuesday with additional resources in hand.
+ We will have more details for you and a moment to send our team on Sunday. In the meantime you can give below.