Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | April 30, 2022

The Disruption of War

War disrupts. Plain and simple. That is what war does.

For the past several months, the people of Ukraine have heard the distant thunder of a gathering storm, slowly intensifying with intimidating power while filling the distant horizon — the kind of storm that one hopes and prays will dissipate or stall.

Two months ago, that storm arrived in eastern Ukraine, unleashing the kind of havoc that leaves its destructive signature on everything in its path. Many Ukrainians hunkered down while others chose to scramble away toward safer ground.

Either way, the storm that is the Russian invasion of Ukraine has disrupted the lives of everyone in its path.

Last week, my friends Cesar and Eric and I moved in the direction of that storm to assist displaced Ukrainians in whatever way necessary. We traveled to Poland to join our friends at Proem Ministries in their relief efforts.

Proem Ministies, founded by my friend Maui Dwulat, has a large capacity Christian camp located a little more than an hour south of Warsaw. As Ukrainian refugees began to flow across the Polish border by the tens of thousands, some found their way to Proem — a temporary stop on their way to the places where they will wait out the storm.

The Christian community in Poland and other surrounding nations quickly mobilized to provide housing and food and transportation. At the first signs of refugees, the road leading to Proem was lined with vehicles bringing donations of clothing and bedding and diapers and food. Two months later the donations continue to come.

Proem has not only housed and provided for the practical needs of Ukrainian refugees, it has helped them connect with family and friends and even strangers in many of the surrounding nations — those who have opened their hearts and homes to the displaced.

Additionally, Proem continues to send supplies to Christians in Ukraine who have set up relief stations along the paths from the east to the more relative safety of the western part of the country. One of our assignments was to deliver relief supplies into Ukraine.

We purchased as much food and supplies as we could possibly fit into a large cargo van and then began the long ten-hour drive from Poland into Slovakia and then along the southern edge of the Carpathian Mountains into Ukraine. At the border crossing we took our place in the long queue of vehicles transporting supplies into Ukraine.

We arrived after the curfew at ten in the evening, the time when villages and towns and cities all over Ukraine turn off all lights and stay indoors. The following morning we arrived at our destination, a small church that has mobilized its members to help their internally displaced countrymen and those headed toward the Polish, Slovakian and Romanian borders.

With the help of the pastor and others, we off-loaded the supplies and then enjoyed warm and welcoming fellowship around the table. The pastor’s mother prepared a delicious meal for us. In the course of our conversation we learned that this little church of 94 members had already taken in more than 700 refugees.

Later on we visited host homes in the area and found that each family had created as many places for guests to sleep as possible. Foam mattresses lined all available floor space. Families did not hesitate to take in complete strangers. Their hospitality included providing clothing and other things needed by those on their way to the border.

We learned that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had recently acknowledged in a speech that 70% of the aid coming into Ukraine was from Christian churches and Christian non-profits. As in the case of every crisis whether large or small, God’s people consistently move in the direction of people in need to be the comforting hands of Jesus.

On our final day on Proem’s campus, we met Pastor Dmitry from Melitopol, one of the first places to feel the full impact of the storm. On March 11, the mayor of this city was abducted by the Russian army and later released as part of a prisoner exchange. Not long after this, Russian soldiers arrived at Pastor Dmitry’s home and arrested him.

Pastor Dmitry spent eight days in captivity. He described his filthy cell and said that the walls were splattered with blood. He was interrogated every day but, fortunately, not tortured like others whose screams he heard daily. He took advantage of every opportunity to speak to his captors about Jesus and told them that he would continue to help his people as Jesus would.

Pastor Dmitry was released but forced to leave the area. He fled with his family and eventually made his way to Proem where we met him. He is now mobilizing to go back into Ukraine to help the displaced.

We heard so many stories — heart-breaking accounts of loss, destruction, and death related to us with tears. We prayed with our new friends. We offered encouragement along with practical provisions. And we talked about how we can continue to play a role in caring for the Ukrainian people.

No one knows how long this terrible war will last or how much longer it will continue to disrupt lives. But I am certain of this, that no matter how long the conflict lasts, the Christian community both in Europe and around the world will continue to play a key role in offering comforting and compassionate care to those whose lives have been disrupted because of Putin’s illegal and immoral war against the Ukrainian people.

Let’s continue to pray for an end to this war.


Responses

  1. Great blog Omar! So glad to hear that the church has helped so much and moved in the direction of need. I can’t wait to hear more details from you at BoF.

    • Thanks, Selim. Looking forward to seeing you soon.

  2. Hi Omar. Thank you for this post. I’m Doug Thorson’s wife and we work for Redeemer City to City (CTC). I posted prayer requests for Ukraine every week on CTC’s social and on the prayer app Echo. Would you have some specific prayer requests you’d be willing to share that I could post? Also – I’d love to know the details on the photos you posted. They are beautiful and very moving.

    • Hi Susan,

      Absolutely. I will reach out via email.

      • Hi Omar. Just checking back in on this. Thanks so much!

      • Here are some prayer points for Ukraine.

        • Remember the many mothers and children who have either fled the country or are displaced internally because of the conflict. They face the challenges of finding safe haven and the resources to wait out the conflict.

        • Remember those who are working to provide care and resources for those who are either internally displaced or fleeing the country. Seventy percent of these resources are being provided by churches and Christian non profits.

        • Remember the men who have stayed behind to protect their homes. A father with three or more children had the option to leave with his family or volunteer to remain behind to fight. The same holds true for men older than sixty.

        • Remember the many families who have opened their homes to provide temporary housing for those fleeing areas of conflict.

        • Remember the many Ukrainian men who were working in neighboring countries who have returned to their homes to protect and fight. More than 700,000 men from Poland alone have returned to fight.

        • Remember the children whose lives have been disrupted and are doing their school work virtually. In addition to the hardship of traveling away from their homes, they face the uncertainty of when they will return home or be reunited with their fathers.

        • Remember those go have already suffered the loss of family, friends, and property.

        • Pray for your safety of those in harm’s way and for an end to this conflict.

  3. Prayers continue! So good to see Christians stepping up as has been the case over thousands of years now.

  4. I’m so blessed to be a part of church that doesn’t hesitate when it comes to moving in the direction of those in need, not for a minute. This movement takes courage and support, something that Kingsland has never lacked. I look forward to hearing more stories like this, but will continue to pray that this war will end and they can return to their rightful home.

    • Thanks, Brenda. We are indeed blessed to be a part of such a caring church family.

  5. So sery thankful to God for His protection to you and the team.

    The ‘little things’ become louder than any other form of preaching. I pray that God will renew your strength and refresh you with the Holy Spirit. Thank you very much for standing in the gap where only a few faithful can do. Bless you.

  6. It warms my heart to hear Christians have answered the call to reach out to those in need in Ukraine. I am so happy to be part of a church that moves towards those in need. I continue to pray for the people of Ukraine as well those who reach out and show the love of Jesus to our fellow man. So thankful for you, Cesar and Eric and your heart for those in need


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