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Ukrainian missionaries in Brazil collaborate to receive Ukrainian refugees 

Brazilian Baptists first welcomed refugees from Ukraine in March 2022. As families continue to make Brazil their new home, churches are responding with hospitality and care. IMB Photo

PRUDENTÓPOLIS, Brazil (BP) – As war continues in their home country, many Ukrainians are traveling to distant places for refuge. Brazil is one of the countries that has opened its borders to refugees. 

Vitalii and Iryna Arshulik are Ukrainians living in Brazil as church planters. They minister in an area where 80 percent of the population is of Ukrainian descent. They’ve partnered with Elias Dantas, a Brazilian pastor living in the United States, who is in contact with Ukrainians seeking asylum in other countries. 

IMB missionary Fernando Dzubuk shares that a youth group of Ukrainians has begun in one Brazilian church. Refugees of all ages are finding Christian community in Brazil. IMB Photo

The Arshuliks represent a combination of efforts from evangelical organizations and churches around the world to help refugees. The International Mission Board plays an active role in this effort.  

In March, Vitalii was sent by the First Baptist Church of Curitiba to São Paulo to receive the first group of 29 Ukrainians. The group was composed of eight families. Two of the families have three or more children, so the father was allowed to flee with them.  

Once they arrived, church members cared for them and took them on a tour of the region, introducing them to the culture and traditional Brazilian food. During that time, refugees shared through tears their experiences from the war. After the initial transition to Brazil, the church helped the families find permanent apartments in neighboring communities.  

One church in Brazil has rented a larger space for Sunday worship. Members are now joined by Ukrainian believers seeking Christian community. IMB Photo

After the initial group, more refugees have come and been met with the same care and concern. Local Brazilian Baptist churches have made commitments to the refugees to help for an extended time. 

The refugees are all brothers and sisters in Christ from evangelical churches in Ukraine, and they are already making a big impact in the city. The church in Prudentópolis, where Vitalii and Iryna are serving, rented a bigger space for worship as more than 100 people gather every Sunday. They have also started a youth group.

This impact has gone beyond their city. The Arshuliks have been invited on many TV and radio shows to share their experiences. In addition, their influence has reached other countries as they have met with ambassadors from the United States, Canada, Ukraine, England and the European Union to find ways to help the Ukrainian refugees adjust to the new culture.

Vitalii’s family has led in this process because they know Ukrainian culture and can communicate with the refugees in their own language. The Arshuliks can see how God prepared them for these ministry opportunities. In addition to their original call to reach Brazilian Ukrainian descendants for Christ, they also now have the desire to help their own fellow citizens physically, emotionally and spiritually.  

    About the Author

  • Valeria Roy

    Valeria Acosta Roy es una misionera uruguaya que junto con su esposo Kyle y tres hijos, Joaquín (12), Martín (11) y Matías (7), trabajan como plantadores de Iglesias con la Junta de Misiones Internacionales desde 2013 en el Sur de Brasil. Valeria tiene una maestría en Lenguas Romances de la Universidad de Memphis lo que le permitió enseñar español en la misma universidad y en Rhodes College por varios años antes de irse al campo misionero. Actualmente ella y su familia, con la colaboración de su iglesia local, están ayudando a plantar una iglesia en las afueras de su ciudad como también apoyando a las iglesias bautistas de la región a permanecer fuertes y firmes en la misión de cumplir la Gran Comisión.

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