Christians across the United States are finding ways to support Ukraine

As Russia continues its assault on Ukraine, many American Christians are trying to help in any way they can, whether through prayer, donations or housing refugees. There is tremendous attention and concern for Ukrainians – and a desire to do something about it.

It’s not just out of Christian love for one’s neighbor – although that is part of it. But it’s also because Churches of Christ across the United States have strong ties to Ukraine.

Related: Why Ukraine matters to the Churches of Christ

“The roots of the Churches of Christ in Ukraine run very deep,” said Justin Ardrey, communications minister for the Sycamore View Church of Christ in Memphis, Tennessee. “It’s hard to talk to a Church of Christ and they don’t have… some sort of relationship with the Ukrainian missions.

Justin Ardrey

Sycamore View has sponsored Dima Grischuck and his wife Julia for several decades. Grischuck is a teacher at the Ukrainian Bible Institute in Kyiv and founder of Let’s Love Ministries.

Ardrey visited Grischuck in Ukraine in 2019 for his annual promotional film used to raise funds for the Tennessee Congregation’s 3:16 World Missions Offering.

“It’s incredibly difficult to see people demolishing these areas,” he said. The Christian Chronicle. “I mean, they’re bombing those areas where I filmed kids playing, and those same bridges that I crossed to go film VBS in the summer are the same bridges that people are now huddled under. It really hurts your heart.

“A Unified Voice Raising Prayers to God”

When the conflict began, members of Sycamore View held an impromptu online prayer vigil to “cry out to God together on behalf of Ukraine — and even Russia.”

And many other congregations — and individual Christians — have raised their voices in prayer for Ukrainians.

Related: “Protect Ukraine, keep it in your custody”

In Cumming, Georgia, the Grace Chapel Church of Christ held a prayer vigil with nearly 150 attendees. Although the congregation is primarily involved in missionary work in Mexico and India, Dallas Rodgers – one of Grace Chapel alumni – said he has heard more and more from members with personal ties to Ukraine as the The Russian assault continued.

One member knew seven colleagues with family there. Another had a daughter-in-law, a US citizen, who had visited her ailing father in Russia – she is now trapped there.

“These are real lives that we know have been affected by this tragedy unfolding there,” Rodgers said.

He knew they needed to do something bigger than a standard congregational prayer.

“We went ahead and started to see how the Spirit was moving in relation to Ukraine,” he said, “and we couldn’t ignore it.”

Dallas Rodgers

Dallas Rodgers

The vigil was rooted in Mark 11:23, where Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea’ and do not doubt in his heart but believe that what he says will come to pass, it will be done to him.”

“We felt that’s what Tuesday night was calling us to,” Rodgers said. “Let’s pray big.”

He also quoted 2 Corinthians 1:10-11: “He delivered us from such deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. We have placed our hope in him that he will continue to deliver us as you help us with your prayers. Then many will give thanks in our name for the gracious favor bestowed on us in answer to the prayers of many.

“We are the many to whom this scripture speaks,” Rodgers said, “because we have united in one unified voice raising prayers to God through tonight’s event.”

Members of Grace Chapel pray in groups, focusing on

Members of Grace Chapel pray in groups, focusing on “trust in God”, “protection”, “faith and perseverance” and “peace”.

A rescue mission

In Alabama, the Madison Church of Christ helped Ukrainian Kate Gladkykh escape from her home in Kramatorsk, across Poland and the United States last year, when a group of about 25 people from Madison participated in Camp Amerikraine – a Christian summer camp run jointly by Americans and Ukrainian churches – Gladkykh served as a translator.

All of the families who took part in this trip were at the airport to greet Gladkykh upon his arrival. They also had a night of prayer together.

Jordan Abram

Jordan Abram

But the connection goes much deeper than that. Jordan Abrams, Madison’s youth minister, said he’s known Kate from Camp Amerikraine since she was around 10 – now she’s in her late twenties. He even remembers the day she was baptized.

“She’s like a sister to me and my family,” Abrams said. Gladkykh was also at Abrams’ sister’s wedding. That’s why she had a US visa and was able to enter the country. Others, including Gladkykh’s parents and sister, were not so lucky.

But Abrams tried to contact immigration lawyers and lawmakers who could help bring more refugees to the United States. He has Christians who are ready to welcome them. Meanwhile, his family uses connections to bring refugees into the Netherlands, Belgium and France. .

Abrams’ father – Jeff Abrams, who preaches in Tuscumbia, Ala. – has returned to Ukraine since the beginning of the war to take money and help people out. Jeff makes four trips to Ukraine a year and was there with Winfield, Alabama, Minister Mark Posey but had left before fighting broke out.

Related: American preacher escapes Ukraine amid Russian bombardment

But the Abrams want no credit for themselves.

“Don’t focus on anyone but God and the people of Ukraine,” Jordan Abrams said. “That’s what’s most important right now.

“It’s just a terrible situation to see people you love and care about and cities you’ve been to and see people suffer,” he added. “I can’t imagine… their friends leaving, their loved ones leaving. … It’s hard when everything you’ve known has kind of gone away.

A need for long-term help

The Madison church is also taking money for Ukraine and plans to donate remaining funds from its budget. Most of it will be channeled to the Eastern European country through the church in Tuscumbia.

Many other congregations across the country also raised funds, totaling at least hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is money that is desperately needed.

Therese Winnett

Therese Winnett

“They need a lot of money to get food, medicine and clothing,” said Thereasa “Susie” Winnett, member of Grace Chapel and founder of Teach One Reach One Ministries.

“They need a lot of money.”

His nonprofit organization provides Christian educational resources to ministries and parents around the world. Now Winnett told the The Chronicle, she divides her time between helping Ukrainians – especially children – cope, helping with logistical issues, and fundraising for ministry partners who send money to Ukraine.

She encourages Christians to send donations to Ukraine through ministries that have had people in the country for years and already have a network in place to distribute the money where it is needed. She works specifically with the Sunset International Bible Institute in Lubbock, Texas – which is a partner of the Ukrainian Bible Institute – and the Glen Allen Church of Christ in Richmond, Virginia.

Since the dispute began, Sunset has raised more than $250,000 for Ukraine aid, association workers said.

Related: Ukraine Crisis: How to Help

“I trust both of these groups implicitly,” Winnett said. “All this money will be used very wisely.”

Besides money, she said Christians can help by expressing their support and trying to be uplifting and encouraging on their public social media pages – while keeping sad stories and photographs in their private faith groups.

She noted that Ukrainians see a lot of messages from people in the United States, even from people they don’t know, and are “just emotionally overwhelmed, as you can imagine.”

But Winnett also said Christians shouldn’t forget about Ukraine once the moment has passed.

“In a few months, in a few years, the media will evolve,” she said. “Most non-Christians will move on, and it will only be a dim memory.”

This is when Christians will really need to intervene.

“Stay excited…because it’s really going to take everyone working hard to help rectify this – even if it were to end tomorrow.”

“I just want to encourage people to stay excited, to stay engaged,” Winnett added, “because everyone is really going to have to work hard to help rectify this – even if it were to end tomorrow.”

Filed Under: Dima Grischuck Grace Chapel Church of Christ International Madison Church of Christ National News Russia Ukrainian Conflict Sunset International Sycamore View Church of Christ Top Stories Ukraine Ukrainian Missions

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