In the midst of war, Southern Baptists help feed Ukrainian families

Russia’s ongoing war on Ukraine has plunged one in three Ukrainian families into food insecurity, leaving displaced families and communities in the East and South, nearest to the frontline, most affected. Amid great need, gifts to Send Relief are helping provide food to refugees who have been forced to flee their homeland and to vulnerable communities within the country.

Since the start of the Russian full-scale invasion two years ago, Send Relief, Southern Baptists’ compassion ministry arm, has provided more than 1.3 million food boxes and 1.9 million hot meals, most of which have been distributed through local churches.

Gifts to Send Relief and Global Hunger Relief have helped fund projects in Polish towns to which a considerable number of Ukrainian refugees have fled since February 2022. In two such towns, Ukrainian churches formed. Thanks to the generosity of Southern Baptists, these churches provided monthly food packages to fellow refugees. As the packages were handed out, families had the chance to hear the gospel, and relationships between the community and church were strengthened.

Through the war, many families have been separated as women and children have crossed the border into foreign countries while leaving husbands and fathers behind. Chuck Franks, a Send Relief partner who helped direct food distribution projects in Poland said, “Many of the mothers with small children are still struggling to make ends meet. These packages have helped provide staples to families in need.”

Southern Baptist’s generous giving to Send Relief has funded more than 100 projects like this one in and around Ukraine, impacting 2 million people and resulting in more than 10,000 new believers.

In a similar project, one Polish church sent a monthly group of volunteers to villages in eastern Ukraine to provide food aid. Ukrainian churches helped steer them to people without transportation who could not get to the church to pick up food. As believers hand-delivered food to the most vulnerable in these villages, they also had the chance to share the gospel message of hope.

To date, Send Relief’s response has involved 1,415 national churches, many of which have helped provide their communities with practical help like taking food to shut-ins, the elderly, and those who are sick. Other churches have started soup kitchens that have led to evangelistic conversations.

These Ukrainian believers have crossed into areas that have suffered a great deal of destruction through constant bombings and shelling. In many such places, work is difficult to find while food costs have risen dramatically across the war-torn nation. The generosity of churches in the States has made it possible for local churches in Ukraine to bring hope to people in need.

Nelya, a 75-year-old widow, was one person impacted by a local church that shared gospel hope with her. At the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion in 2022, Nelya found herself running from war for the second time in her life. Just seven years earlier, her home in Donetsk had been bombed, and she was forced to flee to another city.

She turned to a local church when she did not have the finances to buy food. “Since then, I have connected my life with God, believed, and was baptized,” she says. “Thank God for the kind people who help us to survive!”

Published May 10, 2024