Texas Baptist Men (TBM) has worked quietly in and around western Ukraine since Russia invaded the Eastern European nation two years ago this month.
This winter, TBM, a ministry of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, has helped send firewood, food, household supplies and building materials.
Eleven Ukrainian government and Christian representatives met with TBM leaders in Dallas recently to discuss ongoing needs, including church buildings and houses.
“We’ve been working in Ukraine and with the Ukrainian people since the fourth day of the Russian invasion in 2022,” said Rand Jenkins, TBM’s chief strategy officer. “Our time together Monday was to see what God has done and to explore what God will do as we work alongside our neighbors to rebuild communities.”
Most of TBM’s efforts have focused on war refugees in neighboring Poland and Romania, but it has also worked in Ukraine itself. Jenkins visited Western Ukraine in 2022 to consult with local Christians there.
“In much of the country, city infrastructure has been destroyed,” Jenkins said. “People have fled those cities. What global Christians can pursue now is building homes and churches in western Ukrainian cities, which are housing 15,000, 30,000 or even 150,000 more people than they were before the war started.”
TBM already has “helped reconstruct a building in Western Ukraine to serve as a church, and we’ve had a few of our volunteers participate through our global partners in rebuilding efforts in Ukraine,” Jenkins said. “They want to go back.”
TBM has been heavily involved in ministering to Ukrainian refugees in neighboring Poland and Romania.
“Most recently, we have provided food and Bibles in Romania, near the Ukraine border,” Jenkins said.
TBM also has purchased vans to transport food, household supplies and building materials into Ukraine itself.
Igor Bandura, vice-president for international affairs with the Ukrainian Baptist Union, told TBM leaders: “These cities need churches; they need homes. Schools are overflowing. But they are met by our Christian witness with welcoming arms. … We call upon our worldwide brothers and sisters to help us make a home.”
There are no specific new construction proposals on the table yet this year.
“Ukraine is the Bible belt of Europe,” Jenkins said. “It has a long-standing Christian witness, church growth and missionary-focused outlook. Since its founding, it has pushed back the forces of communism and has advanced the Christian witness. Ukraine is uniquely positioned geographically to be the in-between state of Russia and predominantly Muslim countries.”
Mayors of various towns invited TBM to join their work, and Pavel Unguryan, coordinator of American-Ukrainian Partnership, invited TBM to join their work in the country, Jenkins said.