KHARKOV, Ukraine (BP) — Displaced people from the conflict regions of southeastern Ukraine are moving north into the Kharkov area in search of safety, according to reports received by Baptist Global Response.
One small church in a border city is seeing 30 to 40 people each day coming through their door for food, rest and help as they head to other areas of the country in search of peace and safety, a BGR humanitarian partner in the country reported.
Churches in the city of Kharkov are providing shelter, not only in their church buildings, but many believers have opened their homes to displaced families. The stream of people could increase significantly if the July 17 downing of a Malaysian Airlines passenger jet, 180 miles south of Kharkov, intensifies fighting in the conflict zone.
Churches in this region are uniting their efforts to try to help meet needs, but many of those churches exhausted their limited financial resources in the first month of the relief efforts, the BGR partner said. No one knows how long the crisis might last, and churches may need to assist some displaced families until the conflict ends or those families are able to move on.
The needs could be magnified if the crisis extends into winter. Most of the displaced people left their homes with only the clothes on their backs, the partner said.
BGR and its humanitarian partners in the region are coming alongside those churches to provide resources. Using $1,000 from Global Hunger Relief and $4,000 in Southern Baptist general relief funds, BGR is providing food, baby products, toiletries, bedding, cots/beds, and in some cases refrigerators, since some churches have no way to keep food cold.
In the initial stages of the relief effort, BGR will work with a group organized from local churches to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of displaced families as they come to churches for assistance, the BGR partner in Ukraine said. Workers also will seek to identify other resources available from the government or local community.
The BGR partner asks people to pray:
“Intercede for those who are trying to find safe passage from areas of conflict to other regions of the country, for the love of Christ to compel believers throughout the Kharkov region to give sacrifically to provide for those fleeing their homes,” the partner said. “Pray for the Lord’s provision to meet the needs of those who have left their homes and jobs to protect their families. Pray for hearts to be drawn into a personal relationship with Jesus as his love is displayed through his people in the Kharkov region.”
Mark Kelly writes for Baptist Global Response, on the Internet at www.gobgr.org. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).