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The Gospel on the Battle Front

SGA-Assisted Ministry in the Ukraine Conflict

The regions around the cities of Lugansk, Donetsk, and Kramatorsk have been ground zero for the ongoing battle between the Ukrainian government and separatist pro-Russian militants. SGA partners—including those from our offices in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand— and new friends have responded in a wonderful way with their gifts for our Crisis Evangelism Fund and humanitarian relief efforts.

SGA’s Bret Laird recently completed a dangerous investigative visit into the conflict zones, and returned with gripping accounts of what SGA-sponsored missionary pastors and their churches are facing each day. Based on this and the reports of other evangelical pastors, we are able to provide the following progress report.

We are helping pastors and churches in this region reach out to afflicted families, and in other parts of Ukraine we are helping pastors and their churches to reach refugees who have flooded in from the east. For security reasons, we will not disclose specific locations and the names of the pastors, but plans are moving swiftly to help the churches reach out effectively with compassion ministry and the hope of the Gospel.

The scars of battle are evident in eastern Ukraine. The scars in the hearts of the people can only be healed by the Lord.

The scars of battle are evident in eastern Ukraine. The scars in the hearts of the people can only be healed by the Lord.

In one eastern city, families in the churches are willingly stepping forward alongside the pastors to be the hands and feet of Christ in the midst of the danger. While in the region, Bret and Ukrainian believers participated in the outreach . . .

Our first evangelistic opportunities were with the Ukrainian soldiers who were checking our documents and vehicle in the five military checkpoints leading into the region. They gratefully received the evangelistic booklets the SGA office in Kiev had provided. Upon arrival in each city, we first visited with local pastors and believers to assess their needs. We wept with them over the suffering they have witnessed, but also rejoiced with them for the Lord’s protection and comfort as they huddled in dark cellars for hour after hour, day after day, for several months as the ground shook from nearby explosions. SGA’s assistance to believers who are in need because their homes or places of employment were damaged was a great encouragement to them. Together with local pastors, we also visited unbelievers whose buildings had been hit and where civilians had been killed. We shared with them from Ephesians chapter 2, especially v.14, and prayed for them. Praying for unbelievers in the cellar where they had hid, or in a 4th story apartment where a rocket had blown a 6-foot wide hole in their outer wall was an experience I will never forget. The spiritual and physical needs are great, and we are grateful to SGA’s partners who are enabling us to respond to crushing despair with real hope and real help.

Many homes in eastern Ukraine cities have sustained serious damage in the fighting, resulting in thousands of refugees. From what Bret saw personally and the churches on the ground continue to report, the need in Ukraine will continue for some time, and that makes your support for SGA’s Crisis Evangelism Fund all the more important. According to Bret, for now the focus of the churches and people is more on evangelism and immediate practical needs.

In time, as the shock wears off, people’s minds will be struggling to deal with the enormity of what has happened in their country and in their lives. Ongoing ministry and godly, biblical counsel and teaching will be vital. Pray for us as we continue to work with Ukrainian church leaders in developing a longer-term ministry plan for the glory of Christ.

SGA’s International Partners Play Major Role

We are thankful to the Lord for our partners at SGA/Canada, SGA/Australia, and SGA/New Zealand. Supporters in these nations have contributed significantly to Crisis Evangelism needs. Dr. Igor Yaremchuk, president of the SGA-sponsored Irpen Biblical Seminary, reports that the seminary has become the center for ministry to many refugees—Christians and unbelievers alike . . .

Right now we have seven refugee families that we are helping with housing and living expenses in Kiev. We are supporting 15 adults and 18 kids—33 people in all. Also, we have more than 30 refugees who are staying at the seminary. So all together, we are ministering to 63 people.

Many homes in eastern Ukraine cities have sustained serious damage in the fighting, resulting in thousands of refugees.

Many homes in eastern Ukraine cities have sustained serious damage in the fighting, resulting in thousands of refugees.

In addition, we have helped sponsor a Christian Refugee Camp near Kiev for families from the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. At one point, we had 220 people at the camp. About 145 of them are children of different ages, along with their parents and caregivers. About 80% of them are Christians, and 20% non-believers. The cost to do this has been well over $7,000 per week. If we have the resources, we want to keep housing them through the end of August, but we will need more funds to do this. Thank you to everyone who has helped us, and please continue to pray for us. May our Lord Jesus Christ richly bless you, your families, and your ministries!

Please pray for this ongoing humanitarian and spiritual crisis in the heart of Eastern Europe. News media coverage may not report on it, but for the churches and afflicted families, the crisis is a daily reality. Only eternity will reveal how simple gifts of food, Bibles, and loving support helped change many lives and bring them to Christ.

Editor’s note: The above quote from SGA’s Bret Laird has been updated with new information.

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