Yes, there is a full fledged war going on in Ukraine. Russian forces continue to pound the Southeast. The casualties are significant, both in military and civilian terms. The Ukraine army shows no sign of giving in. They have scored significant push-back victories in recent weeks. The Russian army is pushing for new recruits to raise their forces by 13% in order to try to respond.
Of greatest concern is that the Russian army is using a large nuclear facility in Zaporizhzhya as a shield to fire missiles out of. This is very precarious. Any damage to this nuclear plant could be disastrous. There is concern that they would purposely damage it and release radioactive contamination that would devastate the area. We are heavily involved in helping families on the perimeter of this area. Our vans deliver food and medicine and several churches distribute it.
There are thousands of folks who are not leaving. Some are just dug in and others feel they have nowhere to go. Some have interests there, including family that require them to stay. Others are there to help and support the needy in their area; many won’t leave their homes. They are committed to staying and we are committed to helping them.
In the midst of this, the churches are flexing their faith. Their people are doing every kind of outreach they can, with very limited financial resources. Over the last few months, the number of those leaving the country have slowed down considerably and there has been more aid and infrastructure available to those leaving the country. The process of them getting settled in other places has become much better. Because of this, we have been able to focus on the needs inside of Ukraine.
There are over eight million people in Ukraine who are homeless–meaning they are in churches, shelters, bombed-out basements, or are living with no electricity or heat. A lot of these folks are living with relatives, friends, and church members. The data on the numbers is almost non-existent.
Here’s what we do know: when our trucks show up with food, the line is formed before we get there and there are more people than bags of food. So we repeat the process again and again. The organization on the ground has been and continues to remain impressive.
Our next step is to pull the folks we are working with together. We will meet in Ukraine on September 21-22. Pastor Steve Crombie will travel with me. We will meet Pastor Mervin and Dasha Strother there. Our original idea was that it would be about twenty-five folks. Then we were up to forty and now it’s over sixty people. People are asking if they can come! The place we are meeting is at capacity so we can’t do any more.
We have a three-fold goal. The first is to give them a “day off” and minister to them. When I was seeking the Lord asking Him what we should do, it was clear that we should do what we do well! NRP is good at encouraging pastors and leaders. Our vision of Healthy Leaders, Healthy Churches is not complicated–it is a relational investment.
On day one we are going to encourage them, feed them, and care for them. The second part is to connect them to each other. Some of them have no idea who the others are that are working three to four hours away. They have not had the luxury of being able to connect and now they will.
The third part of this is to gain an even greater understanding as to the best way we can continue to help. Each team there will give a report on what they are doing and what their needs and challenges are. Then, we will have to say yes or no to that. Obviously the more resources we have to give, the more we get to say yes.
Please do all you can to help us say yes! To say that this puts a little pressure on us would be an understatement. This is what war and unrighteousness do and this is what we signed up for. It’s nothing compared to what they have to do every day when the food runs out.
At this point we have helped to purchase three heavy-duty vans that are running the distribution circuit. We’ve helped with medical needs for equipment and supplies and food–lots of food. We even helped to plant a church close to the Romanian border that has grown to over 350, with people giving their lives to Jesus every week.
Our decision-making process has been based on relational recommendations and in many cases, now first-hand knowledge of people we are working with. We also have to consider their ability and plan to accomplish the mission. The exact needs we are facing also comes into play, but the needs are overwhelming and never run out. So, being effective is critical. There is nothing more effective than working through specific local churches. That is the foundation of what we are doing. In that manner, we can address the legitimate humanitarian needs and have a platform of sharing Jesus with those in need of salvation, as well as invite them into a local church family.
Please pray for this crucial gathering and please consider a yes gift to help us now. Right now we are committed to give $10,000 a month for supplying food and we are considering other requests as they come. Recently, we partnered with another ministry to purchase $12,000 worth of medical supplies.
In spite of the immediate needs and chaos of war, I love the fact that the men and women we are working with somehow have maintained their vision for winning souls and making disciples and planting new churches in needed areas. There are places now crowded with refugees where it creates new opportunities to plant new churches. Our partnership with them will outlast this war. Putin won’t live forever, but Jesus "is and was and is to come.”Our vision is unapologetic–to make this history HIS story! Thank you for putting your heart and resources into this great and glorious undertaking.
We leave on September 19 and will gather together September 21-22. Then we will venture into the war zone with some of the Ukraine pastors. Would you commit to cover us in prayer during this time? We need wisdom, strategy, and Holy Spirit power.
Would you also consider a gift to help these precious ones who are fighting for life?
I’ve enclosed a photo of one of the food and outreach lines and a video from one of our food distributors thanking us for the van.
In the Master's Service,
NRP Team Leader