Five months have passed since Russia invaded Ukraine. The war has forced millions from their homes. We are grateful for the generosity of many who have supported the Ukrainian Relief Fund – our effort in cooperation with Overseas Council/United World Mission.
In this initiative, Taras Dyatlik, Regional Director for OC and an engagement director with our Vital SustainAbility Initiative, coordinates 10 seminary hubs that do direct relief work throughout Ukraine. At each hub, seminary leaders manage faculty, pastors, and other volunteers who provide food, medical supplies, and Bibles to people in need. They also conduct evacuations. Across locations, volunteers offer counseling; in the face of so much death, people long to see kind human faces. Receiving something as simple as a loaf of bread and a hug, those who are suffering feel that their humanity has been recognized and valued.
In the war’s first 120 days (through June 30), relief efforts have accomplished the following:
- 1,744 tons of food and aid distributed across former occupied and current war zones.
- Over 156,000 people given physical aid or encouraged by seminars hosted by the hubs (an average of over 1,200 per day).
- Over 10,000 people evacuated from “hard zones,” including areas without safe passage.
- 29,000 refugees ushered through 11 seminary-run sites. Refugees often stay 2-4 days to receive warm meals, a shower, and a chance to wash clothes before they move on.
- Over 800 refugees remain housed on seminary campuses, many unsure where to go next. Thankfully, this number has come down over the last two months.
- Each month, an average of 270 volunteers participated.
As the war has intensified in eastern Ukraine, evacuations have slowed. However, the need for food, medical supplies, and help has not diminished. The price of gasoline has increased sixfold. In many areas, damage to infrastructure limits power, water, and internet. The Belarussian army continues to exercise troops near Ukraine’s northern border, perpetuating fear that they may join Russia in the invasion. And, recently, Russia has increased its campaign of terror, firing missiles at civilian targets and even intentionally destroying wheat fields in order to worsen the global food shortage.
On the positive side, UETS in Kyiv has returned to its campus – and some faculty members are teaching classes online. However, campuses such as TCI in Kherson remain occupied by Russian forces. Their core faculty provides relief to others while operating far from their own homes and campus. Leaders from OTS in Odesa continue to do relief work as well. In Moldova, UDG still houses over 100 refugees.
Please pray for these leaders and volunteers. They are tired. Every night, air raid sirens sound all over Ukraine, so few have had a full night’s sleep since February 24. They are stressed and traumatized. Friends are dying in combat. Missiles strike civilian centers daily. They have witnessed death and destruction firsthand. Many feel betrayed by Christians in the region who deny the war’s reality or extent. They know that faculty members who have left Ukraine are unlikely to return.
In August, these seminary leaders plan to meet and begin planning what theology and theological education will look like “after Bucha.” ScholarLeaders will work with them as they restructure their seminaries in light of post-war realities, form a new regional association to guide the theological community and provide quality assurance, and start to guide the Church as it endures the horrors of this war and wrestles with trauma and resilience, peace-building, and citizenship. Pray for these leaders to continue to have strength, vision, and wisdom as they consider the future of Christian education in Ukraine after the war.
Thank you for your support of this work.