A letter from Christopher M. Hays, SL’s new President. To give, please go to our donation page and designate your gift to the Ukrainian Relief Fund.
A couple of days ago, our Vice President, Evan Hunter, and our VSI partner, Taras Dyatlik, traveled to Moldova to meet delegates from six Eastern European theological schools as part of the Vital SustainAbility Initiative. They planned to strategize together about training pastors and Christian leaders for decades of fruitful ministry. And then Russia invaded Ukraine.
Taras is Ukrainian. Evan is American. Since all Ukrainian men from the ages of 18 to 60 must report to serve the military, Taras spent 15 hours making his way across the border and back into his hometown of Rivne, while many women, children, and elderly people flee the country. With Moldovan airspace closed, Evan boarded a bus from Chisinau to Bucharest and caught a plane to Frankfurt. En route, both men have sent information from our client schools in Ukraine to ScholarLeaders staff. What they have reported is heart-wrenching.
Friends, our brothers and sisters are in a dire situation. Some faculty and students of client schools are being displaced by the war as I write this. Our colleagues at Odessa Theological Seminary and Tavriski Christian Institute have already evacuated in the face of the Russian invasion. In Kyiv, Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary is sheltering faculty, students, and neighbors in their basement; they have become a de facto refugee camp, even as Russia converges on the capital. We want to be there for them.
I am new to my role as President of ScholarLeaders International—in fact, I don’t officially start the job until Monday. But by “sheer coincidence,” I spent the past eight years working with victims of the violent civil conflict in Colombia. One of the most fundamental lessons I learned was that local Christian communities and institutions are the most trustworthy, frugal, and effective brokers of aid in times of crisis. They are on the ground, at the front lines, and so they know what the biggest needs are and can respond to them decisively. Consequently, one of the most strategic ways to love the people of Ukraine right now is by providing resources to our client schools, enabling them to serve their students and countrymen in this turbulent time.
For this reason, we have established the ScholarLeaders Ukrainian Relief Fund. The purpose of this fund is to support our client schools—faculty, students, and those in their community who seek refuge in their midst—as they struggle to survive and serve amid the current war and in whatever comes next. If you feel moved to donate to the people of Ukraine, we will ensure that your gift is directed to faithful stewards, who will be Christ’s hands in the midst of war.
In any scenario, please join us in praying for Ukraine, especially for faculty and students of our three Ukrainian client schools: Odessa Theological Seminary, Tavriski Christian Institute, and Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary.
The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble (Psalm 9:9).
Christopher M. Hays