Nearly 5 million Ukrainian war refugees have crossed borders into other countries, and an additional 6-8 million internally displaced people have migrated west within Ukraine. This month’s Prayer Focus is on relief and ministry efforts for these refugees, also known as the diaspora.
Just before the Russian invasion, TEAM evacuated its two workers from Ukraine. (You can read their stories here.) But TEAM’s ministry work both inside and outside of Ukraine was only beginning. Within days of the first bombings, TEAM workers in the Czech Republic began receiving refugees, and other TEAM ministry areas were soon to follow. Global workers now minister to traumatized and spiritually hungry people day in and day out. The call for believers to pray for both the refugees and those helping cannot be overstated.
Advancement Officer Doug Batchelder leads a TEAM task force to address the most pressing needs of the Ukraine crisis. He shares that the Church, through mission agencies and local churches across the globe stepped up vigorously to serve those in need. However, the key concern moving forward is sustaining those efforts.
“Given the scale of the crisis the war created, the needs will not go away anytime soon, so our efforts must be sustainable in both funding resources and caring for those in need,” says Doug. “However, the nature of the need will change from triage with food, medicines and shelter, to meeting the enormous spiritual and emotional needs the war has created in the lives of people. We must prepare to sustain this effort into the future for two groups of people affected by the war and its consequence: the war victims and the caregivers.”
We invite you to join us in praying for each of these ministry regions and the work that God is doing through TEAM and other agencies to meet refugees’ tremendous spiritual and physical needs:
Ukraine: TEAM is connected with three Ukrainian pastors whose churches and communities are located in the heart of Russian-contested territory. Through TEAM’s Refugee Relief Fund, we’ve been able to help these pastors provide food and medicine. Now we are helping fund convoys evacuating people as Russian troops attack the city. These trips are very dangerous, as civilians and relief workers are often targeted as they try to flee. Pray for safety and protection as well as reliable vehicles and drivers to make these life-saving evacuations.
Czech Republic: Refugee relief efforts in the Czech Republic mobilized very quickly in the early days of the war. TEAM, in conjunction with an organization called Dignity Restoring Hope, acquired access to an apartment building and several floors of a convent in Prague. Workers cleaned, repaired and furnished these spaces to provide semi-permanent housing for dozens of families. (See this ministry in action.) Pray for these families as they begin to process and heal from the atrocities they have endured, and for the workers ministering to them to have strength and endurance.
Poland: While TEAM does not have global workers stationed in Poland long-term, the Lord has opened doors for ministry there. TEAM workers have traveled several times to Poland to partner with relief efforts spearheaded by Josiah Venture. Another TEAM worker was involved in efforts in Poland to get life-saving medications such as insulin to refugees in surrounding areas. Because of Poland’s geographic location, the country has seen the largest influx of refugees and has been stretched far beyond its capacity to care for them. Despite the overcrowding, refugees are reluctant to leave Poland because it is close to home. Pray for refugees in Poland to find their “next steps” such as more permanent housing and a place to settle and for workers to have strength and wisdom for the daunting logistics of helping such a large number of people.
Romania: TEAM has several contacts working in Romania, acting as interpreters for refugees as they navigate getting settled in a new country. A TEAM worker has connected with a Romanian church that is ministering to Russian-speaking Christians. Pray for churches in Romania and throughout Europe as they seek to minister to believers and unbelievers who are processing trauma from the war.
Austria: TEAM workers in Austria, in partnership with a ministry called Heart Works, received a large donation of clothes, toys, and other items before Christmas last year – so large, in fact, that they weren’t sure what they were going to do with it all. Then when buses of refugees arrived in Vienna in mid-March, that question was answered. Just in the first two days, TEAM, Heart Works, and the Beheimgasse church were able to provide needed items as well as meals to 60 women and children. Pray for TEAM to continue effective partnerships with other like-minded organizations in Austria and beyond, as collaboration is vital to effective ministry throughout Europe.
Spain: One of the most horrifying byproducts of the war in Ukraine is the increase in sex trafficking and exploitation as ruthless traffickers target women and children traveling alone. The problem has become so widespread that many refugees are afraid to accept help from real relief workers. Some refuse even to accept bottled water from legitimate workers for fear of being drugged and abducted. In Spain, TEAM is partnering with the Tamar Project to protect and provide safe help for these families. This help comes in the form of transportation, food, clothing and baby items. Families in the city of Seville have graciously opened their homes to these women and their children to rest and recuperate as they contemplate their next steps. Pray for refugees to trust the true relief workers while staying protected from those who seek to do them harm.
Italy, Ireland, Germany, France, Greece and Portugal: TEAM workers in these European regions report refugees coming into their communities with great needs, and other ministry areas in Europe are considering how God will use them in the midst of the crisis as well. It is likely that the spiritual and physical needs of displaced people throughout Europe will grow exponentially in the days to come. (For ongoing updates, visit team.org/ukraine.) Pray for global workers serving refugees to be encouraged and empowered for the long haul ahead.