A Mercy Projects team from the UK and US recently visited Ukraine and Budapest to deliver aid but also give their support to local partners, whose lives have been changed forever by the war but who are determined to continue their work.
Mercy Projects has been working in Ukraine for 27 years, and helping families on the frontline since conflict began in 2014.
Founder and Director Jeff Thompson said: “We understand our mission in Ukraine is to assist vulnerable children. Whether they are refugees, orphans, foster kids or kids with special needs, we believe God has called us to show them his love.”
Since March the charity has been coordinating aid and rescue trips. In June, a team made up of volunteers from both the UK and US, as well as UK Director Peter Wooding, spent two weeks working alongside local partners.
They began their trip at a ministry centre near Budapest, helping to run a camp for teenage Ukrainian refugees.
Wooding explained: “What was remarkable was the camp was coordinated by our staff who had been forced to flee their homes in Kyiv themselves and were now ministering to young people who were also displaced by the conflict.”
Mercy Projects Camp Director Yana Glushko commented: “I’m really thankful to God that we can be useful to children and I feel my life has purpose.
“I want to show God’s love to these young lives by loving them, showing acceptance and give them gifts and games. It’s wonderful to see God touching their lives.”
The team then entered Ukraine, where they took aid supplies to a special needs children’s centre in Konotop and to a widow called Natalia in the Chernobyl region, who is a Mercy Projects partner coordinating aid and spiritual support to children and families.
Her husband had been killed in a car accident and then her home destroyed by Russian troops. Mercy Projects had helped evacuate Natalia and her two children to safety in France.
However, it wasn’t long before she felt compelled to return to her home village.
“It is my home; this is my place,” she said.
“I’m continuing in my ministry to children and families in this region like I did before the war. The only difference is I’m now living in my mother’s home.”
Wooding commented: “The trip was full of mixed emotions. It was heartbreaking to see how the war has destroyed so many lives and homes and ripped families apart.
“But at the same time it was inspiring to see the resilience and resolve of Christians to serve their country in ministry.”
Claire Musters is a writer, speaker and editor who blogs at clairemusters.com. Her most recent books are Every Day Insights: Disappointment and Loss (much of which was written by her mum’s bedside during the ten days mentioned) and Grace-Filled Marriage. The latter was written with her husband, and they have provided a series of free videos to accompany the book, which can be accessed on the Big Church Read website. Claire also writes and edits for Premier Woman Alive and Christianity magazines and is the host of the Woman Alive Book Club.