By Randy Alcorn
Eternal Perspectives Ministries
Ministry based in Sandy, Oregon
ACTION International, based in the Seattle area, is one of my favorite ministries. It flies under the radar because its people devote so little effort to fundraising, and so much effort to hands-on ministry. They are faithful and Bible-based. Spend some time on their website, and you’ll see their heart.
Brian Stewart, ACTION USA’s Executive Director, writes, “The suffering of the Ukrainian people has greatly increased, but so have the opportunities to share the Gospel and minister to urgent needs. Our two focal points for ministry are Ternopil, in the safer, western part of the country, and Kherson, which is now under the control of the Russian army. Please join us in praying for our dear colleagues in both areas who are working in the most difficult of conditions to help families who are being displaced by the invasion.”
By God’s grace, Paul Hughes, Director of ACTION UK, and his close colleagues in Ukraine began planning over two months ago for the possibility of needing to minister to thousands of displaced families. Tragically, their preparations were indeed necessary. The team had the foresight to establish five church-based shelters in an area of the country that is both far removed from the invasion points, and relatively close to the Polish border.
Each shelter is hosting two or three times more people than had been planned. This week over 1,500 people came through the shelters every day. Many have had to avoid soldiers as they fled their homes. However, as Paul writes, “Most are open to praying with pastors and volunteers. The issues of evil, sin, God, and rescue are natural conversations in these circumstances.” Most families who arrive in Ternopil are eager to leave the country, so they stay only one day.
“The children arrive looking exhausted,” Paul reports after speaking to many of the volunteers, “yet at least they have slept some, in their mothers’ arms. The moms, however, have been carrying their kids and the suitcases, and have been constantly walking or standing in long lines at stations and crossings. All have traveled at least two days, many three or four days, without sleep.”
These dear people are fed, housed (at the shelter or in the homes of church members), counseled, and witnessed to. Some are wounded but are more eager to get to the border than a hospital, so most of the families leave for Poland after staying one night. Pastors, elders, and deacons help them make that 4-hour trip in buses that each shelter has.
At the Polish border, the volunteers are able to pick up canned food, bottled water, bandages, and medicine. In great part that is what your donations have been spent on, as well as gasoline, kitchen equipment, and mattresses.
Not only is the Gospel being shared with these hurting families, but local political leaders, police, and security services are also hearing of God’s love, and seeing it in action in their city.
The Russian army has occupied the city, and the population is being ruled by fear. Soldiers fire their weapons indiscriminately to instill panic. Movement is severely restricted, and food is gone from the store shelves. Some have shared with Paul their concerns that the invaders are using starvation tactics.
Many of Paul’s contacts in this area run homes for children from trauma backgrounds, and this week has been especially hard for these little ones. He writes, “These are children who jump at the sound of a chair moving, or a pen dropping to the floor. Imagine their fear as they hear gunfire and mortars outside.”
In spite of the danger, children’s ministers continue to host Bible clubs, where kids can come discuss what is happening, be prayed for, play games, and have a small snack.
Paul writes, “In the midst of the brutal bloodshed in Kherson, faithful believers still meet to break bread, remember Christ, and pray for their families, churches, and their city.”
You can give through ACTION’s website. Or if you would like to donate through EPM, select “Relief Fund,” and through March 31, everything you give will fund ministries working in Ukraine, including ACTION.
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