Editor’s Note: The images below were provided by an SGA-supported church network in Poland.
What an encouraging report from a network of churches in Poland! Please continue to lift up our fellow believers in this country as they minister to Ukrainian refugees who have fled their country during the war. While the devastation of war continues, God continues to bring healing and hope through His people.
The church in [Region 1] has been very active from the very beginning. Below is a brief preview of what we expect to see in a longer version of this report in some time.
[Region 1], located [not far] from the Ukrainian border, became one of the main targets for refugees within the first few days of the outbreak of war. Thanks to Pastor Henryk’s long-standing contacts with Ukrainian churches, for many the church in [Region 1] became the first stopping place in their escape from the war.
On Friday, two days after the outbreak of war, members of the church began to prepare a place to stay for those who needed rest after the many hours of crossing the border. When 40 places were prepared, 60 people arrived for the night. When the number of beds was increased to 90, 120 people sought rest after many hours on the border.
Just a month before the outbreak of war, the church in [Region 1] lacked funds to cover the heating bills. With only 20 mattresses, there were many doubts as to whether we could really help. Already in the first days of helping the refugees we had many concerns about the finances and the strength of the volunteers. After all, we had never been involved in anything of this scale.
However, being right at the border we felt a Christian responsibility — after all, almost all refugees are women with children, old people and orphans. Through Jesus, were not thousands fed with five loaves and two fish? Trusting that God would provide, we took a step of faith and temporarily removed the pews from the chapel, where another couple dozen beds were set up.
The building of the church became a “Christian Transit Center”, to which Polish border services directed Ukrainians who needed rest after — in many cases — a multi-day journey. For almost two weeks about 250 people a day found rest in our church. Through contacts with churches in Germany, Latvia and other European countries, the vast majority of them continued their journey to safety. Since the beginning of the war, about 4000 people have passed through the [this center]. Each of them had their own bed with clean sheets, hot meals, showers and help for the rest of their journey.
Through a partnership with a local nonprofit they created for outreach, the [Region 1] church also began shipping humanitarian aid. From the warehouse donated to the church, we have already sent more than 15 truckloads of food, basic hygiene products and other items to churches in Ukraine, i.e., over 400 tons of various products!
We thank God for His faithfulness that He has also miraculously multiplied our small contribution in our case, and through its power we are able to serve thousands.
The [Region 2] churches are far away from the Polish-Ukrainian border, yet they are actively involved in helping refugees. Below are some thoughts from [one of these churches] — let them give us a feel for the climate of their work and let them be a foretaste of the report we are hoping for in the coming weeks.
The church in [one Polish city] has been serving refugees from Ukraine, believers and not, since the first day of the war. Of course, the last 2 weeks have been less intensive in bringing refugees to us, but still practically every day a few or a dozen people show up.
All the time we maintain a Christian Aid Center in the building of the [the church] with 40 places to sleep ready. The kitchen, laundry and storeroom are working practically around the clock. All the time we are searching for, or rather receive by God’s grace — in the face of the general shortage of apartments in the [area] — further target apartments, where we can accommodate our wards for the next few months.
We have started a day care center for pre-school age children — this is also our response to the general lack of places in kindergartens in Gdansk. This is a good way to help mothers find and take up employment.
We continue to collect material and material help for the brethren and churches in Ukraine and try to support them in helping people who have been forced to resettle or are still in war zones.
Every hand is useful and is a practical blessing. It is an incredibly edifying experience to see God work directly and through people in local churches and around the world. What’s more, the church has become a field of evangelism without having to go outside; people can see God’s love in the church-just as it is written! “I give you a new commandment: love one another; love one another as I have loved you. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
The Conference Center in [another Polish city] was an obvious place [in Poland] for refugees to come. It was obvious for everyone.
On Sunday, February 27th, Pastor Piotr – the director of [the Center] and the pastor of the church, announced at the service that the Center was starting up, and he needed volunteers. In response, all the members of the church and more came forward.
A quick meeting at 1:00 p.m. made it possible to plan the activities and the vision of the Temporary Center in . . . and it lasted about an hour . . . and already in the evening the first two families arrived: 19 people altogether.
In the first days, which were the most difficult and full of improvisation, Pastor Piotr had about 50 people in his team: some of them took a leave of absence from work, others were working at the Centre 10-15 hours a day. With time, duty rosters were established and the Center’s proven system allowed for a reduction in the need for volunteers who could return to work, university, etc. Currently, about 18 volunteers are involved in regular duties at the Center, and about 10 more people help occasionally or remotely, e.g., loading cars, preparing the website, writing posts or creating graphics.
The center in [another Polish city] received a total of 485 people until April 7, of which 344 went on their way. Some of our guests found housing in Poland, some went to other countries.
Our assumption, which we consulted with friendly psychologists at the very beginning, was to “not create refugees”, that is, not to create or strengthen the attitude of helplessness. As far as possible and according to the situation of our guests we want to activate them in this substitute of a normal life.
That is why our guests take part in preparing meals, cleaning the Center and the dining room and generally keeping things in order. There is practically no resistance on their part, and the child care provided pro bono by an external company enables the parents (mainly mothers) to participate in the life of the Centre, deal with formalities, plan further travel or learn Polish or English.
All official activities (legalization of stay, giving PESEL number) our guests do on their own, although of course we prepare them for this. We also assist them in contacting embassies, doctors, offices or looking for a job or an apartment.
Of course, we don’t know how long the war in Ukraine will last or how long our help will be needed. However, we are preparing ourselves for the fact that this or that kind of help may last for a long time, so our organization must also adapt to such longer help.
Yesterday, the 7-year-old child of one of our volunteers said to his mother: “Mom, when the war in Ukraine ends, will we go there and help them rebuild everything?” With such childlike faith, let’s continue to organize help. For God’s glory and for the benefit of people!
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