MCC partners in Ukraine work to meet physical and spiritual needs

By Jason Dueck, MCC

In the silence that lived between the deadly warnings of air raid sirens, the sound of a small choir, singing a song of praise, echoed out of a church sanctuary in western Ukraine. Just the night before, Anna*, administrative coordinator for MCC Ukraine, had absent-mindedly hummed a few bars of the song during an evening tea break at the church.

Uplifted by that quiet moment of inspiration, the church’s pastor suggested some of the young people in the church record a performance of the song as an act of worship. He hoped the lyrics speaking of God’s power and protection might offer spiritual comfort in a dangerous time.

But this hymn about God’s love and power isn’t the only thing the church is offering to their neighbours. Anna and her family fled Zaporizhzhia, their home in southeastern Ukraine, as the conflict edged dangerously close. They were taken in by the church’s pastor and his family near Lviv. Anna and her family immediately joined the efforts of the church to house, feed and care for as many of the masses of refugees moving to or through western Ukraine as they could manage.

They’ve filled the upper level of the church with foam mattresses and blankets to offer rest to the weary. They’re finding temporary homes for as many refugees as they can, often dozens of people each day. They pray with and for those who are without hope. And they prepare hot meals and clean water for the hungry and thirsty.

All the work Anna is doing with the church and alongside other local organizations is supported by generous donations to MCC’s Ukraine emergency response.

For years, Anna’s work has involved supporting displaced people from other parts of the country, and now she’s having that experience from the other side. She says that even as prepared as her family was physically to flee their home, it’s essentially impossible to be prepared emotionally for what it is like.

“When I came to the church [last week], I entered the building and I started to cry. I started to cry a lot, I could not stop. Because I was feeling that I lost something, or I was leaving something in the past. I understood that we are refugees now. We are far away from our home.”

While her experience as a refugee has been emotionally and spiritually taxing, she says she’s found a great deal of meaning and hope by choosing to help others experiencing the same challenges.

As she welcomes refugees, “I can understand what they’re feeling,” says Anna. “ I tell them that now they’re in a safe place—praise the Lord—and that we have friends around the world.”

In addition to Anna’s efforts near Lviv, MCC continues to respond to immediate needs in Ukraine through its local partners.

*Last name withheld for security.

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