The war in Ukraine is stirring many of us up. For older people it brings back Cold War fears thought buried. For younger people, the uncertainty of conflict in Europe with a nuclear power is a new terror. The bravery of the Ukrainian people heartens us all. But we wonder, God, what does this mean? How will it end? How can we help?
Today we received an email from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance with an update on what the larger church is doing to help Ukrainian refugees. You can read their appeal and prayer below:
"(God) shall judge between the nations and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore."
— (Isaiah 2:4)
The current Russian invasion that started on February 24 follows eight years of conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Hundreds of thousands of people across the country are enduring bombings and assault by Russian military forces; and have lost power, been cut off from water and fuel. As people head toward the western regions, there is a shortage of food and other basic supplies. The reports of displaced persons inside Ukraine continue to rise every day, already in the hundreds of thousands. The UN anticipates that as many as 6.7 million will be displaced internally. Likewise, Ukrainians are fleeing to neighboring countries, primarily to Poland, Hungary, Moldova, Romania, Slovakia, while others have moved to other European countries. Again, current estimates from the UN are that the refugee numbers could also reach several million. These borders have remained open until now even as lines are growing.
Partners are raising particular concern for the women and young children who make up the majority of the refugees as many men are now barred from leaving the country. As part of the international humanitarian community, PDA urges that governments and non-governmental organizations provide assistance without discrimination due to concerns for the Roma and people of other nationalities who have also been displaced by the conflict.
In the midst of the chaos, there are sibling churches and ecumenical partners who are already providing assistance with basic items for survival. Initial assistance being provided includes shelter, food, clothing, blankets, baby food and diapers, other hygiene supplies, flashlights and candles, generators and fuel.
Our first priority is to provide funding to these partners on the ground. While the scale of this crisis is new, receiving refugees from Ukraine and other countries in Central and Eastern Europe is not, which means we have trusted, established partners with the knowledge and expertise to carry out this important work. In fact, One Great Hour of Sharing — the single largest way that Presbyterians come together every year to provide hope, help and relief — was started in response to refugees coming out of Europe.
Our response to the situation in Ukraine will include both financial and technical assistance as the network of faith communities providing humanitarian assistance grows in the months ahead.
The needs for the response will be great. God’s people are called on to stand in the "GAP" — Give. Act. Pray.
GIVE. ACT. PRAY.
GIVE: Gifts can be made online, by calling (800) 872-3283, by texting PDAUKR to 41444, or by check made payable to Presbyterian Church U.S.A. with "DR000156-Ukraine" on the memo line. Mail to: Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) P.O. Box 643700 Pittsburgh, PA 15264
Download the bulletin insert
Urge the U.S. government to support generous aid for refugees and civilians suffering in Ukraine, and call for engaging a diplomatic solution to the conflict.
PRAY: God of mercy, justice and peace
Our spirits are heavy with sorrow, our souls shocked At the sudden and breathtaking violence, the invasion of Ukraine by their neighbor, Russia.
We pray for lives caught in the grip of war, who hear the bombs in the night, the ominous movement of troops on the road into town the whistle of incoming shells, for a cry from a desperate neighbor or a shout of warning. For those who huddle in subways and basements or flee for the borders, clutching their children’s hands We pray for families separated from fathers, brothers and sons who must remain to fight and protect their homeland.
We pray for neighbors in Eastern and Central Europe As their hearts and doors open to these refugees That strained resources will become an abundance of hope That fears and struggles with racism will yield to a generosity of profound welcome That communities of faith within Ukraine will be protected from harm and sustained in their efforts to feed and shelter their neighbors. That peacemakers and protesters in Russia will be heard and their lives preserved.
May we undergird our prayers with tangible resources to help. May we reach deeply, give generously, and welcome extravagantly. May we lift our voices in a strong and unified advocacy. May we all, even as we breathe in lament, breathe out mercy, hope and peace. And in this Lenten season, when we walk the way toward death and resurrection, repent our complicity in cultures of violence and renew our efforts toward justice and peace.
--Rev. Dr. Laurie Kraus, Director, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance