This report is produced by EBF Communications in collaboration with Baptist partners.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reports 7,814 civilian casualties, including 3,752 killed, as of 17 May. OHCHR believes that the actual figures are likely to be much higher, as data from the worst-hit areas are still being verified.
According to the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR), more than 6.2 million people have fled Ukraine; the vast majority of these are women, children and the elderly. There are more than 3.3 million refugees in Poland alone, along with more than 924,000 in Romania, more than 610,000 in Hungary and more than 464,000 in Moldova.
Updates from Baptists in Ukraine
The Ukrainian Baptist Union Coordination Centre continues to distribute aid across Ukraine. To date they have sent out at least 320 vehicles filled with humanitarian supplies from their warehouse in Lviv. Churches inside Ukraine press on with delivering food, medicine and other necessities to those in need, some of whom are still sheltering in basements.
The Donetsk and Luhansk regions still experiencing heavy shelling. Local churches continue to provide aid and are helping to evacuate those wishing to leave. The communications network in Luhansk has been destroyed, and the city of Lysychansk has no electricity or water supply.
On Easter Day, church services were held across Ukraine, with many non-Christians attending. In the Chernihiv region alone, 25 people gave their life to Jesus during the Easter celebrations. However, in the Luhansk region only one church was able to gather for Easter worship because of heavy shelling.
Irpin Bible Church is housing a team of up to 70 volunteers. They spend their days repairing damaged homes, delivering hot food to the armed forces, and welcoming people into the church to wash their clothes, charge their phones and collect basic necessities such as food and clothing. Pastors and deacons are on hand to provide pastoral care.
As well as responding to the needs created by the conflict, congregations such as the Church of the Resurrection in the Odessa region are continuing with their normal pre-war ministries. This includes providing practical support to blind people and running rehabilitation centres for people struggling with drug addiction.
Baptist Response in Neighbouring Countries
Slovakia — Baptists in Slovakia have recently sent a second truckload of humanitarian aid into Ukraine. They are also helping to buy food for Ukrainian refugees within Slovakia, although numbers requiring this support are tailing off slightly. Churches continue to provide a warm welcome, and are seeing growth: before the war, a Ukrainian church plant in Bratislava had a congregation of 50 people; now it has closer to 150. The Slovak Baptist Union has recently obtained 5,000 Ukrainian children’s Bibles, which they plan to distribute free of charge. They are financially supporting a Christian nursery for Ukrainian children in Bratislava. Churches continue to provide accommodation, help with doctors visits, job placement assistance, and help registering children in local schools. One congregation in Ružomberok is running a playgroup for Ukrainian children and providing Slovak lessons and art therapy for adults.
Romania — Churches across Romania continue to provide practical and spiritual support to refugees, as well as sending humanitarian supplies into Ukraine. Mănăștur Baptist Church in north-west Romania is just one example. Since the start of the war, the congregation has helped more than 300 refugees. They are providing accommodation, food, transportation, legal advice, medical supplies, job-seeking support, groups for children and a weekly Ukrainian community meeting. A Russian-speaking Christian therapist is offering emotional and spiritual support. One refugee passing through en route to Italy said, “I never experienced so much love in all my life. We want to be part of such a church, so please help us find one like yours in Italy”. Among the refugees are two Ukrainian pastors, one evangelist and three Sunday school teachers. They are actively contributing to church services and are reaching out to other Ukrainians in the area.
Russia — Russian Baptists continue to respond to refugees who have come into Russia, providing for their physical needs. Meanwhile, many Russians, especially young people, are fleeing Russia. One of the Baptist unions in Serbia has begun to receive Russians who have left.
Across the EBF — Baptists across the EBF region continue to help in tangible ways, sharing the hospitality of Christ. From Spain, Portugal, the UK, Germany, Austria, Czechia, Bulgaria, Italy and many other contexts have given generously and are housing refugees with church families.
Please see past reports for how other Baptist Unions are responding. If your Union is responding to the crisis, please let us know so that we can include your response in future updates.
EBF has been proud to lead the global Baptist effort to support those inside and around Ukraine affected most by the war. On 18-19 May, Baptist leaders from Ukraine and neighbouring countries met for a brief time to pray and coordinate in Vienna. One participant commented, “At a meeting organised by EBF in Vienna for regional Baptist leaders, Bandura’s appeal was moving as he communicated the tragedy of the war against his country. It was also encouraging to hear many stories of service and sacrifice with people becoming involved in helping. We prayed for an end to this war, for a just peace to be restored and for the reconstruction of Ukraine.”
Ukrainian Baptists are grateful to those who pray during the Lenten season. EBF will continue to host monthly prayer calls on the last Wednesday of the month via Zoom at 19:00 CET (18:00 UK time). The next will be 25 May, 2022. You can use the same registration link.
For further information and stories, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org For all other details contact:
Will Cumbia, Coordinator for Migration Issues, at email@example.com
Tim Solwoong Kim, Communications Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org +47 484 96 884
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