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As Ukraine Crisis Escalates, Urgent Need for Trained Responders

Waves of Responders Are Bringing Hope to Ukraine

As the crisis in Ukraine escalates into one of the largest humanitarian crises in modern history, the Church must respond with hope, comfort, and good news to those suffering in this crisis. Today, millions are fleeing to surrounding nations, desperate, homeless, hungry, suffering, and traumatized. This is the Church’s opportunity and responsibility to meet the basic and urgent needs in this crisis and bring the gospel of God’s love and reconciliation through Jesus Christ into some of the darkest places on Earth. The harvest truly is plentiful but the laborers are few. 

Mobilizing the Church 

Our teams are on the ground at the border of Ukraine and Poland. The need and situation is alarming and staggering. The needs are overwhelming, local churches in Poland are exhausted, there are not nearly enough relief workers helping and sadly, this may be just the beginning of a long season of suffering. Yet, we can’t back down now. We must mobilize, join forces across denominational lines, raise and send resources, personnel, and a strategic response to a situation that is going from bad to worse. 

In the midst of this darkness and pain, I have hope because I’ve seen God move in amazing ways when the church comes together in times and seasons like this. The opportunity is even now opening up for some of the most effective ministry today. I’ve seen the biggest harvest, the most receptive hearts, the most hearts open to the gospel, in the midst of a crisis for over 20 years now. Disaster and crisis indeed are where ministry happens – when people are in need, the heart is open to salvation in Jesus Christ. This is our mandate according to Isaiah 61 – to comfort those who mourn, provide for those who grieve, and bring good news to the poor and broken. Jesus himself said it was in the context of great crisis, that the gospel would be preached throughout the world even in the midst of deep darkness and great despair.

The heart of Jesus

Disaster relief ministry is truly the heart of Jesus who modeled for us how to leave behind comforts, putting the needs of others ahead of their own, and sharing the love of the Father with those who need it most. Jesus left the comforts of heaven to go on the greatest rescue mission the world has ever known and now we have that same calling. What a beautiful expression of God’s love. This is our opportunity, this is our responsibility. 

Over the past 15 years, CRI, the organization I have the privilege of leading has trained and mobilized ordinary, everyday believers to step out of their everyday routines, volunteer their time, talents, and treasure, and bring the gospel into hurricanes, tornadoes, war, and refugees displacements. We’ve trained over 12,000 disaster relief volunteers, but our work is far from over. Jesus said in Matthew 9:37, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” 

Here I am send me

As I watch the unfolding crisis unfold in Ukraine and Russia, I believe this is a “here am I Lord, send me,” Isaiah 6 moment for believers across this nation. We have been blessed with so much, crisis presents an opportunity for us to give back, lay aside our agendas and serve those suffering. As needs escalate, the need for believers to pray, give, go, and share has never been greater. To put action to our faith and be present to bring hope as millions of refugees flee for their lives has never been greater. CRI has come alongside churches and their missions departments since we were founded shortly after the September 11 attacks on NYC. Providing training and resources for churches to mobilize their people into action has always been our heart. 

The gospel for everyone

As an organization that responds to nearly every major disaster and crisis, I am not as concerned with who is bad or good, the fact is people are hurting dying, starving, and traumatized – they need help. Wherever there is a need, we’re going in to meet them, this is where the kingdom of God is fulfilled and this is when the Great Commission will be accomplished. It doesn’t matter who’s right, who’s wrong, the gospel alone can change the heart, transform the mind, and save a nation. Everybody needs to hear the good news and know Jesus  – good and the bad, the righteous and the unrighteous. People are hurting dying, starving, and traumatized, that’s where the gospel must go. Will you join us?  

Boots on the ground 

Today our Wave 3 responders are on the ground now in Krakow, Poland and are receiving 100s of refugees into a church safehouse. Thankfully our trained responders are equipped with chaplaincy skills to comfort those in need and help with the trauma and grief process. We have a distribution hub, we have extra-large duffle bags moving resources to a site in NJ and then responders are arriving with bags of goods and supplies. We want to get as many supplies and relief to as many people as possible. We are working down near the border and are allocating resources. We are taking a lot of lighter weight items – hygiene products, solar lights, but we have to buy a lot of things on the ground – blankets, food, etc

Poland has welcomed everyone with wide-open arms – this could change. We have three more waves of responders lined up, but the harvest truly is plentiful. There is room for more responders to train, deploy, and impact nations for Christ. This is the church’s greatest hour, let’s rise up and meet the needs of this hour. 

This is our opportunity as the church to bring the gospel into crisis, let’s not miss the open door God is placed before us as the church and as a nation.