A mere three years ago, world headlines were dominated by the military conflict in Eastern Ukraine—first, the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula by Russia, and the takeover of major areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in the east (known as the Donbas region). During the first months of the conflict, there was an enormous amount of insecurity, as the borders of the conflict were changing daily.
But, the world’s attention to Ukraine was short-lived as other major world events unfolded throughout the year: the disappearance of a Malaysian Airlines flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, the Ebola epidemic in Africa, the rise of Isis in Syria and Iraq, and domestically the Ferguson, Missouri, riots. To this day, fighting continues in the Donbas region in Eastern Ukraine, claiming almost 10,000 fatalities and trapping over six million people in the contested area.
The war destroys not only thousands of houses, but millions of destinies. Innocent children play in streets and on playgrounds without suspecting the impending danger of a mortar shelling. Even if they survive the explosion, they have been robbed their childhood. The elderly are especially impacted, since they often do not have the financial means to travel or relocate to a safer location.
The Church of God had nine congregations located inside the area controlled by the pro-Russian separatists. (Two of the congregations have since been closed.) However, the nearby churches that are outside the warzone have risen to the occasion to provide for the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of those strongly affected by the military conflict. Also, the Church of God has introduced its own chaplains into the Ukrainian army, giving pastoral care to the soldiers in their units.
Church of God World Missions, along with local ministers and humanitarian aid teams, have been actively evacuating refugees from the war and supplying food, water, blankets, clothing, and medical supplies to those living along the demarcation line. To date, we have 27 feeding stations that also serve as centers for counseling and worship services. Hundreds of people have accepted Christ as a result of the humanitarian aid efforts throughout the region. Some of the feeding stations have even developed into fully-organized congregations.
Unfortunately, there is no end in sight to the fighting in Eastern Ukraine, despite the Minsk Agreement. Daily, there are attacks along the demarcation line between the Ukrainian army and the pro-Russian separatists’ forces. Food and water, clothing, and blankets will continue to be in short supply as long as the war continues.
Continually aware of disasters around the world, Church of God World Missions is on the scene immediately, offering funds, support, and prayer. To meet the needs of disasters when they happen, World Missions is emphasizing Disaster Relief during the month of June. Your participation is not only essential, but deeply appreciated.