When I woke up on 24 February 2022 and read about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, I immediately contacted the president of our association and said that I felt that Kairos Mission School here in Suceava, Romania, some 20 miles from the border, should get ready to receive refugees. I never knew how true that would be.
That Thursday morning we had our last class and, by the evening, the Mission House started to receive refugees. A couple of families at first, more the next day, and, within a couple of days, we were receiving more than 200 daily. They came confused and scared, often not having made any plans beyond getting out of the country. We fed them, found accommodation and, when they knew where they wanted to go next, we would arrange their onward transportation and accommodation. Often families had no one to host them in their final destination and we built up a network of hosts all over Europe and even further afield.
After six weeks, the numbers reduced, with the weekly average being closer to 40 a day. I vowed right at the beginning that I would not turn anyone away. In total, we have helped more than 4,000 people in various ways. Through volunteers and partnerships with churches in Ukraine, we also continue to send humanitarian aid and medical supplies to Ukraine with drivers being willing to drive to areas most affected by the war.
Now we are getting more complicated cases. Even the fire brigade brings us people that others do not want to take. We are housing cancer patients, disabled people, the elderly and infirm, and people with major mental health issues.
In total, we have helped more than 4,000 people in various ways.
Whilst the Lord has supplied us with a small team of medical personnel, we do not have the ideal facilities to manage this situation and trying to find long term accommodation for them remains a challenge. Longterm refugees in Suceava benefit from their own housing, to provide a relative amount of privacy as family units. We have therefore rented three apartments for three families and are seeking accommodation for 13 more.
We have rented a building in the city in order to provide a base for our refugee work. We have named it the Friends from Romania Centre. Here we receive refugees who are in transit and provide rooms for volunteers. We also use the building to help refugees who have settled in the Suceava area, through social assistance, food distribution, household items, posttrauma counselling, educational programmes for children, and Romanian and English language courses for children and adults. Expanding our efforts in this way has allowed the Mission School to reopen classes at the beginning of May. Every Friday, all the students provide practical help at the refugee centre.
In recent days, our response to this trauma has moved from a sprint to a marathon. Although the number of new arrivals has decreased, we know that this will be a long-term ministry, especially with the refugees who have decided to stay in Suceava until the war ends and they can return home, however long this takes. Pray with us for stamina and vision to continue sharing the love of Jesus to those whom he sends our way.
This will be a long-term ministry, especially with the refugees who have decided to stay until the war ends.
Please pray …
- for the ongoing war situation and that a peace can be found
- that thousands we have helped will see the love of God in the help they received and read the New Testaments given to them • that we can find accommodation for refugees wishing to stay in Suceava long-term and a Ukrainian pastor willing to stay and start a church in their language
- for a new director for the ministry with refugees and a steady longterm funding stream
- for suitable accommodation for refugees with health issues
- for volunteers willing to serve in whatever way they can, especially Ukrainian or Russian speakers
Andy and Anca Worsop work in mission training in Suceava, Romania.