While the indiscriminate bombardment continues in Ukraine, many refugees have simply been in survival mode. The Russians have continued to unleash overwhelming firepower in an attempt to bring Ukraine to its knees. This is not going to stop anytime soon.
Christian ministries have been doing all they can to care for the Ukrainian people. Operation Mobilisation (OM) and its team is one organisation that has been on the ground in Ukraine. They have been working directly with the local community and those displaced by the current conflict.
OM has been responding with emergency shelter in homes and church facilities, first aid, basic health care, food parcels and hygiene supplies. Wayne Zschech is currently working with OM in Ukraine, and recently joined us on 20Twenty to share an update on the situation.
“We’re now 75 days in,” says Wayne. “We’ve had anxiety, stress and a determination to seek the Lord. We are now digging into the resources we have in the Lord to go through this marathon. But the Lord is the sustainer and the giver of strength and He knows where this is going. We just need to daily cling to Him.”
Wayne believes it’s clear that the Russians have not been able to take as much land as they thought. Many cities have now doubled or tripled in population because of internally displaced people. Churches are ministering to those fleeing, and to those who have left their towns and are settling in for the long haul.
“Some of them will go back when the fighting is over,” says Wayne. “Others will face cities where infrastructure has been severely damaged and houses have been destroyed. We’re not only ministering where the fighting is, but long term. The problem is that it’s not clear how this will end.”
The Body of Christ now has a different face in Ukraine, because many people leave to go to safety themselves. There have been miraculous escapes, and there is a mixing up of the churches and denominations, where people have ended up in other places.
“We’ve got this intertwining into the fabric of our society now,” says Wayne. “One Pastor had 90% of his church leave when they when they could. But during this time, he ended up with several dozen locals hiding in the church basement. You can imagine the bonding that they had over a month.”
After the Russians had retreated, OM started bringing aid to those people. The church has become a spiritual place of refuge, and around 50 people turn up every day for Bible studies and fellowship. OM is helping to play a small role in building a vibrant community of Jesus followers.
“Amongst the body of Christ we’ve been ministering and interacting,” says Wayne. “There’s been loss of life both in the local community, including some Christian leaders. You can spot the traumatised people. When vehicles turn up in their yards with bullet holes in them, you can tell they’ve been through a lot.”
Wayne says the support that OM is receiving is giving them the courage they need to keep going as the work enters a new phase. Fuel and logistics are still major problems at the moment. After people have a safe place to stay, they start looking at how they will survive beyond this crisis.
“Two thirds of Ukraine’s children have been displaced,” says Wayne. “And more than half of those who had jobs are now temporarily unemployed. The effects of this become more apparent with each passing week. So we’re looking beyond aid to what community development look like.”
“In the networks that God has given us, people have faithfully stayed in very dangerous places throughout the most difficult times. And it is a privilege, although it’s hard, to be chosen to be in this place at this time for this ministry.”
If you would like to support the work of OM in Ukraine with urgently need resources, click here