Abraham Shepherd, Send Relief Area Director for Europe, Middle East & North Africa
I watch as an older man stands in front of his bombed-out house. All of his memories—the small earthly things that give us comfort, his entire history—is scattered. There’s a confused, bewildered look on his face as he realizes that the accomplishment of his many years of labor is no more.
I see a woman who doesn’t want to leave the danger zone because she just witnessed the death of her family by artillery fire. To her, she’s sitting at their grave.
I see people lining up at bordering countries with whatever they can carry and waiting in 15-16 hour lines, exposed to the elements and waiting to be processed. Once they cross the border, their status changes to “refugee,” but regardless of the label, it’s the same person fighting disbelief, exhaustion and desperation as they search for ways to fend for their families.
You see, it doesn’t matter which country is experiencing conflict—Yemen, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Syria, Libya, Georgia, Armenia and now Ukraine—war forces people to become displaced.
With the tragic scenario currently unfolding in Ukraine, Send Relief has responded quickly, propelled by God’s love. We are providing food, hygiene items, shelter, safety blankets and transportation to most of the neighboring countries that people are fleeing to, such as Hungary and Poland, while continuing projects are providing relief to people still trapped in Ukraine itself.
As we monitor the situation, it has become clear that the bulk of the Ukrainian refugee population are currently seeking shelter in countries with similar cultures and languages, as well as those with a large diaspora presence of Ukrainians. Currently, it appears as though Poland will be the base of operations moving forward, but as is the case many times, the majority of people in dire need are not the refugees outside the country but rather the displaced people trapped inside the country, with no means of travel and no family or friends to go to.
Present news reports state that over 1.4 million refugees have made it to Poland, with Moldova receiving the second highest number at 83,000. Moldova needs more assistance, not because of the size of the refugee population, but because coping with an influx of this many refugees is difficult for the small nation with an already struggling economy.
Send Relief intends to establish a rest and registration facility at one of the key entry points, where we can offer refugees relief packages with sandwiches, water and more necessities, along with working with local authorities to provide a play tent for children to wait in while their parents are processed.
Currently, most of those fleeing Ukraine are women and children, as most 18–60-year-old men must remain in the country to fight unless they have medical exemptions.
Establishing this rest and registration point will help us confirm where they will be resettling in Poland and other countries, who they will stay with and if we can arrange follow-up visits to assess and strengthen the financial capacity of host families.
In all of this, we must remember that God is in control. His kingdom expands in a time of turmoil. As the body of Christ unites, believers are emboldened and strengthened in their walks with God.
Published March 14, 2022