International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries in Ukraine had been hearing rumors of war for the better part of a year by the time Russia launched their invasion in early 2022.
What they weren’t prepared for was the devastating aftermath that followed.
Less than a month after their emergency evacuation, more than 7,000 civilians had already been killed, with thousands more injured. Entire cities were bombed into oblivion.
One year later, it still continues. It’s a testament to the incredible resolve and resilience of the Ukrainian people. It is nothing short of a miracle that, despite—maybe because of—these horrific circumstances, the Ukrainian church has grown.
As Ukrainian Christian refugees sought safety in neighboring countries, they brought their hope in Jesus with them, spreading the gospel.
Since the war began, Southern Baptists have consistently supported the Ukrainian people through Send Relief projects, IMB missionaries and other local partners in the region.
These missionaries and Send Relief partners are leading compassion ministry projects in Ukraine – and they are there to stay. This ministry work involves delivering provisions to physically and mentally handicapped people still stranded in the country, leading worship services in community centers-turned-churches, facilitating Bible studies in basements and bomb shelters, hosting mobile medical clinics, providing theological education to Ukrainian pastors and making dangerous trips into Ukraine to oversee relief operations.
In the first few months of the war, Send Relief and IMB ministry efforts mostly focused on providing survivors with food, supplies, shelter and emotional and spiritual care. As the days turned to weeks and weeks turned to months, Baptist churches across multiple countries continued to take refugee families in and welcome them into their congregations.
By attending Christian camps, Ukrainian refugee children were able to reclaim some of the childhood innocence they had lost. IMB missionaries and Send Relief partners attempted to imbue a sense of celebration back into the community by hosting Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas parties, which provided much-needed time for community care and a distraction from the collective trauma.
The power of the gospel and generosity of these believers eventually changed lives.
Send Relief has facilitated 111 Ukrainian relief projects since February 2022, offering respite to refugees in Ukraine, Poland, Romania, Moldova and 16 other countries around the globe. Volunteers with Southern Baptist Disaster Relief made the trans-Atlantic journey to serve along the border of Ukraine.
In short, Southern Baptist generosity knew no bounds. Gifts to Ukraine relief thus far have totaled $12.9 million, with $10 million given to Send Relief and $2.9 million given to the IMB. After IMB missionaries developed digital engagement strategies to reach Ukrainians both inside and outside the country, the reach has been astronomical, with more than 22.5 million people visiting the website since its launch.
Send Relief partners and IMB missionaries continue to facilitate refugee relief centers to meet physical needs and spread the hope of Christ alongside national partners by leading Bible studies, hosting mobile medical clinics, partnering with local church planters and teaching classes at the Ukrainian Baptist Theological Seminary.
Only the Lord knows how long the war will last. Kings and kingdoms will all pass away, but we know Jesus’ love will last well beyond. If you would like to help operations on the ground in Ukraine continue, give below today.
Tessa Sanchez writes for the IMB. Natalie Sarrett is a writer for Send Relief.
Published February 23, 2023