Local Ukrainian Relief Efforts
By Dan Adams
Associate Pastor at Parma Heights Baptist Church in Parma Heights, Ohio
Our hearts broke, along with communities and churches around the world, as we heard the news of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. At our next staff meeting a few days later, I asked the questions on everyone’s minds, “What are we going to do? How are we going to help?” I was almost afraid to ask, knowing this crisis was far larger than we could imagine. For a variety of factors, Ohio has the fifth-largest population of Ukrainians in the US, and Parma/Parma Heights has one of the densest concentrations in our state. We immediately encouraged our people to give financially through the NAB’s Crisis Relief Fund for Ukraine. But we knew we needed to do more, as we fully anticipated refugees relocating to our immediate community.
Less than a week later, we had gathered various leaders from our community – pastors, local Ukrainian leaders, school officials, and para-church leaders – for a time of brainstorming, determining anticipated needs, and identifying our resources. It was encouraging to see the Church take a meaningful leadership role with these leaders. The next few weeks were filled with preparing while waiting for the inevitable arrival of refugees.
A few weeks ago, we received word the first families had arrived locally. A few quickly turned into dozens, and then well over a hundred families. We’ve mobilized our people, and they’ve risen to the occasion to help in several critical areas:
- Short-term housing: Refugees need a place to stay while they get their paperwork in order, secure employment, and locate long-term housing. Our people have opened their homes to taking in refugee families until they settle down.
- Collection of furniture and household items: Families are coming to the US with what they can bring on the plane. We’re collecting gently used and new items to help them outfit their long-term homes.
- Employment: The refugees are permitted to work legally, but language is a barrier to employment. A number of our people and their contacts are hiring refugees, understanding their predicament.
Prior to these efforts, we were already serving the hungry in our area through our food pantry and monthly community food distribution, which serves nearly 1,000 people monthly. In response to the refugee crisis, we have expanded these ministries to meet the growing need. While the needs are great, it has been a blessing to see God’s people respond generously and compassionately. What a blessing to see the church love, give, and serve as they’re able.
Want to know how you can support the people of Ukraine during this war, whether or not they be refugees? Here are three ideas:
- Pray for the end of the conflict and for however else you sense the Spirit leading you.
- Follow the example of Parma Heights by connecting your church with local community leaders to gauge how to best respond to your immediate community’s needs.
- Give to the Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund.
What Is Blue Ocean?
If you haven’t yet taken the plunge into Blue Ocean, we want to invite you to join us for our three gatherings, once every couple of months for a few days each beginning in the fall. In case you’ve ever wondered, each of the gatherings has a distinct focus:
- Vancouver, British Columbia – Theology (October 16–19, 2022): Not only does this first set of meetings help foster a sense of community, it also entails an exploration of the missio Dei and uses topics such as reading Scripture, the Gospel, and the Trinity to get at the missional nature of our God.
- Sacramento, California – Formation (February 5–8, 2023): These few days focus being formed into the image of Christ, especially as leaders and how the dark side of leadership can impact our ministries, and even our very souls.
- Chicago, Illinois – Ecclesiology (April 24–26, 2023): The final gathering is a movement toward missional ecclesiology: what it looks like for us to be a people in a place, creating space and bearing witness to what God is doing there.
Over the last number of years, scores of NAB leaders have undertaken this journey together and by doing so have captured a vision for their church, ministry, and personal lives about what it means to be on mission with God in our communities. Consider taking the plunge into this next Blue Ocean cohort, beginning October 16–19, 2022. To find out more, visit the NAB Blue Ocean webpage or reach out to Sara-May Cardy.
If you are already an alumnus of Blue Ocean (or Ethos, Light Blue Ocean, or any of the other missional programs of the NAB), don’t forget Bonfire is taking place September 27–29, 2022, in Chicago, Illinois! Sign up soon before you lose track of time and forget!
Spring 2022 TouchPoint Newsletter
- An interview with Alyssa Moran from Iglesia Casa de Luz in Sacramento, California.
- A review of I Am a Leader by Angie Ward.
- Ideas for ways to impact your community during the summer months.
- And much more!