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Two years later, Christian NGOs in devastated areas of Ukraine: “They need us to stand faithfully by their side”

The war has caused 5 million refugees since the Russian invasion began on 24 February 2022. Organisations such as GAiN and LIO have sent dozens of aid trucks and are working with Christian partners on the ground.

AUTOR 7/Joel_Forster,5/Evangelical_Focus 23 DE FEBRERO DE 2024 17:03 h
A group of citizens during a distribution of food packages in Eastern Ukraine. / Photo: [link]Licht Im Osten[/link].

Two years ago, Europe watched in shock how Russian tanks started crossing into Ukraine.



On 24 February 2022, all eyes were on Vladimir Putin, who three days earlier had announced his plans for a “special operation”. Ukraine conscripted hundreds of thousands of men and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the country was ready to defend itself, fearing “nothing and no-one”.



The United Nations called to immediately de-escalate the conflict and most global actors, including the European Union, described Russia’s invasion of Ukraine’s sovereign territory as “unacceptable” and “incomprehensible”.



 



First reactions from Christians



Christians in Ukraine hiding in safe places described the noise of the blows in Kyiv and the “scary noise of military planes”. Christian radios changed their programmes “to encourage people to pray and give practical advice on what to do”, a journalist told Evangelical Focus then.



Evangelical pastors called on fellow believers elsewhere to “pray for our people, our families and churches” and for the “the Good News of Jesus Christ” to be shared in such times of fear and chaos. “Prayer is our best weapon”, they insisted.



Leaders of evangelical platforms in Europe condemned the invasion. “We see no justification for these actions and are deeply distressed by the death, destruction, chaos and misery that will result”, said the European Evangelical Alliance the day Russia’s army started the full-scale invasion. The Lausanne Movement Europe organised online international prayer meetings.



Earlier, the Russian Evangelical Alliance had underlined that “all Evangelical Christians pray every day and ask the Almighty to give wisdom to all, to preserve the fragile peace and not to plunge our countries into fratricidal conflict”.



 



5 million refugees, open homes across Europe



As the hopes of an agreement that would avoid the war disappeared, the exodus of refugees started, and churches in neighbouring countries such as Poland, Romania, Hungary, organised themselves to receive thousands of women and children.



According to the latest UN data, over 5 million refugees have left Ukraine since the war began.



Ukrainian families staying in the homes of Christians in countries such as Italy, France and the United Kingdom told their stories to Evangelical Focus. Several platforms connected believers fleeing the war with churches in Western Europe.



 



Dozens of aid trucks and water supply



GAiN, a European Christian NGO specialised in urgent humanitarian aid, was one of the first groups to cross into Ukraine, just three days after the invasion.



This “immediate and coordinated reaction” was possible to “natural connections with local churches and missions in Ukraine”, Pau Abad, a member of GAiN Spain has now told Evangelical Focus. These partner groups on the ground include a children’s residence, a Pentecostal union of churches, as well as youth mission organisations.





[photo_footer] Aid beeing distributed in Ukraine. / Photo: GAiN [/photo_footer] 


“Thanks to these relationships, we have been able to transport food, clothing, blankets, mattresses, hygiene products and other necessities to warehouses or locations designated by local churches and ministries, and from there they have been distributed in the cities themselves and throughout the country by the network of volunteers”.



In these two years of war, GAiN has crossed the border of Western Ukraine with 151 transports. Additionally, over 250 other trucks have been directed to neighbouring countries. Around 1,800 tons of aid have been distributed, thanks to donations of personal donors, organisations and churches in Europe.



One of the projects GAiN is supporting is located outside of Bajmut, one of the hardest fought cities in the war. The help is now “focusing on the distribution of drinking water, since the water supply system has not existed for more than a year and a half”, says Abad. This is “literally saving lives because and it is a job that involves a lot of risk because of the journeys involved. A couple of weeks ago, our local partner’s vehicle was attacked by a drone while he was distributing humanitarian aid and left a hole in the roof”.



According to the data of GAiN, in 2023 alone, approximately 450,000 Ukrainians in the country have been benefited by the aid collected by this NGO.



 



Potatoes and firewood distributed through local partners



Another Christian organisation working on the ground is the Swiss-based Licht Im Osten (LIO, Light in the East). They have been sending aid since the start of the fighting in Eastern Ukraine back in 2014, ten years ago.





[photo_footer] Distribution of food among the population. / Photo: LIO [/photo_footer] 


“Our help and support now is even more important than it was two years ago”, says LIO’s director, Matthias Schöni. “The ongoing war, the harsh winter and the lack of prospects are sapping the population’s strength. For our partners in Ukraine, it is a huge encouragement to know that LIO continues to support them with practical support with practical emergency aid. They now need people who will faithfully stand by their side”.



Since the full-scale invasion, the mission and aid organisation has sent 62 trucks of humanitarian help into Ukraine and helped distribute 229,000 food packages. 300 tons of potatoes and pasta products as well as 2,000 m3 of firewood have also been given to people in need through 8 local help centres in the country.



In May 2023, a Russian missile hit a warehouse where the organisation stored goods serving hundreds of families in the city of Ternipol.



In its newest report, LIO counts 7,100 people who have been evacuated through its channels from war areas to safe places.



[analysis]

[title]One more year[/title]

[photo][/photo]

[text]At Evangelical Focus, we have a sustainability challenge ahead. We invite you to join those across Europe and beyond who are committed with our mission. Together, we will ensure the continuity of Evangelical Focus and Protestante Digital (Spanish) in 2024.





Learn all about our #OneMoreYearEF campaign here (English).



[/text][/analysis]


 

 


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