LVIV, Ukraine (BP) — Russia’s repeated attacks on Ukraine’s energy grid have plunged roughly 10 million Ukrainians into darkness and cold as the winter months have closed in. Donations through Send Relief, the Southern Baptist compassion ministry, are providing churches across Ukraine and Eastern Europe with food, generators and resources to house refugees during this critical season of ministry.
“This winter is going to be life-threatening. It’s a matter of survival for the Ukrainian people,” said Jason Cox, Send Relief Vice President of International Ministry. Some of the most urgent physical needs Send Relief is meeting are food, warm clothes, assistance in winterizing damaged homes, heating supplies and generators.
Because of the generosity of Southern Baptists, Send Relief partners have already been providing churches in Ukraine with generators so that they can offer heat and housing for internally displaced persons, of which there are 6.54 million in the country. Gifts to Send Relief are also funding power supplies for countries across Eastern Europe, like Moldova, where more than 60 Baptist churches are preparing for an influx of 250,000 refugees during the winter months.
Through partnerships with churches and Baptist Unions all over Europe, Send Relief continues to meet dire hunger needs for displaced Ukrainians. One such initiative is feeding 3,300 Ukrainians every week for the next six months through food packages sent by Polish national partners and distributed by Ukrainian churches to their local communities.
Southern Baptist donors are also helping Send Relief’s partners from the Czech Republic to work with Ukrainian churches near the front lines to distribute food where civilians have nothing to eat, making way for opportunities to share the Gospel and connect people with a local church.
Since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion, Nauris and Sanita Graudiņš, a church-planting couple in Latvia, have been hosting Ukrainian refugees from Mariupol at their hotel. Gifts to Send Relief are allowing them to continue their ministry as they help Ukrainians find medical care, jobs, childcare and schooling. They also hold worship services every Sunday and are available to listen and provide spiritual support to the refugees.
“We could not be responding with the pace and the scale that we are if it weren’t for the generosity of Southern Baptists,” said Cox.
To date, gifts to Send Relief have sponsored nearly 100 projects to help Ukrainian families across Europe, more than half of which have taken place inside Ukraine. Send Relief expects to serve more than 1.6 million Ukrainian refugees through its ongoing projects as the work continues into 2023.
Reports from just one third of the projects have recorded that 48,000 Ukrainians have heard the Gospel and 16,000 have accepted Christ because of Southern Baptists’ gifts to Send Relief. Additionally, 466 European national churches have been involved in Send Relief’s response, showing the organization’s commitment to working through the local church.
Send Relief President Bryant Wright emphasized the importance of continued Southern Baptist support to meet the needs of Ukrainians: “Now winter has set in. The needs are overwhelming and a large portion of the gifts for Ukraine have already been distributed. May SBC Christians consider giving through Send Relief this winter to meet some of these overwhelming needs.”
Send Relief leaders shared that Southern Baptists can support these efforts by praying, raising awareness about the ongoing needs in their church communities and donating to Send Relief’s Ukraine crisis fund. Specific prayer requests and other details about Send Relief’s ongoing efforts can be found on that page.