LOVED TO LOVE
Pastor Steve Crombie
The River Church, MN
I don’t know what stunned me more--being asked to go to Ukraine or being asked to travel with Pastor Keith Tucci to Ukraine. Both thoughts were daunting, but the decision was obvious and easy to make.
Keith asked me on a Sunday evening, and eight days later we met at JFK airport. I so appreciate the spirit of the NRP to respond quickly to the needs of souls, whether at home or abroad, and that we don’t just send money to organizations. We send people and money to people we know who are helping other people in the name of Jesus Christ. We’re about relationships.
From the beginning of the trip, we repeatedly saw the favor and endorsement of God. Keith met a Ukrainian man in the Pittsburgh airport who was also on his way to go and fight in Ukraine. We were picked up at the Bucharest airport by our host and chauffeur Pastor Costel, who proved to be a kindred spirit as he introduced us to quality people in the trenches helping Ukrainian women and children.
We were driven seven hours north to the town of Suceava (Soo-chava) and attended an evening prayer service where by chance we met Ben, a Romanian-born man currently living in Seattle, WA, who is overseeing teams providing medical assistance, food, clothing, and transportation of refugees to safety both within Ukraine and Romania. He introduced us to friends of his in other parts of Suceava and the border checkpoint town of Siret who have systems in place for receiving refugees in transit on their way to other European countries or those who need help but intend to go back to Ukraine as soon as it’s safe to do so. How long that will be is anyone’s guess.
The quarter mile or so of road leading to the border was full of police, news crews, medical teams, refugees, and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) offering food and assistance. In one tent, propane heaters were warming people as hot meals were being served. A poster hung on the wall warning women not to give their passports to anyone or to go anywhere with a person they didn’t know.
About an hour into Ukraine, we arrived at a church in Chernivtsi that was transformed into a refugee center, and we met Pastor Sorin. He welcomed us warmly and patiently showed us around the facility. I took many photos of all that was going on–storage rooms of food, medical supplies, diapers, volunteers, and children playing with toys on the floor. The sanctuary was divided by a fabric-covered wood frame wall. One half of the room was full of dining tables. When we were led to the other side of the wall which was the sleeping quarters for the women and children, I was overcome by the scene. It was sacred ground. I couldn’t take any pictures. We walked through the dimly lit area, which was almost wall-to-wall with mattresses. Some were occupied with women sleeping who had arrived during the night. Here and there were clusters of women quietly talking. These women had left husbands, fathers, and brothers to flee to a country of people they don’t know, who speak a language they don’t speak and with no certainty they’ll ever see their family again. It was heartbreaking, and that’s why we were there.
God’s Spirit led us to quality people who love God and love their neighbors. Please jump in and help as you’re able. We were loved to love others. It’s a beautiful thing to be part of the NRP tribe.