By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
KYIV/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – A U.S.-based mission group said Monday that it is rushing generators and critical supplies of firewood, coal, and thermal blankets to local churches in war-torn Ukraine as “families face a brutal and potentially deadly winter.”
In remarks obtained by Worthy News, Illinois-based Slavic Gospel Association (SGA) said its ‘Ukraine Winter Heat and Hope Project’ is partnering with hundreds of churches in Ukraine who earlier delivered millions of meals.
As Russian missiles hit targets across Ukraine, GSA said it wants to ensure that “displaced and desperate Ukrainians stay warm and find hope during the expected winter freeze.”
Drone attacks and missiles reportedly wiped out more than one-third of Ukraine’s power grid, causing rolling blackouts and cutting off electricity to more than one million households.
SGA’s said the “lifesaving project” would help churches across Ukraine turn into “centers of heat and hope” where families can shelter and stay warm when the bitter cold rolls in.
The group explained that blankets and generators would be shipped from Germany and neighboring Poland while firewood and coal would be purchased locally in Ukraine.
“The need is huge, and the crisis is upon us,” said Pastor Igor Bandura, vice president of the Ukrainian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists, representing more than 2,000 churches nationwide. “The spirit of Ukrainians is still strong. Our people are not in a panic, but thousands are struggling.”
As the crisis deepens, Ukraine’s churches — once struggling to fill their pews — are bursting at the seams amid a spiritual revival, the pastor claimed. “Our churches are full every Sunday,” Pastor Bandura added.
With SGA’s support, local churches and pastors on the frontlines have been delivering food parcels, providing 7 million meals, aid workers said. They also “shared the hope of the Gospel message since the war started,” SGA stressed.
SGA’s evangelical church network — cultivated over nearly 90 years through communism and the Cold War era — is “the most effective, grassroots way to get aid to the people who need it the most,” claimed the group’s president Michael Johnson.
“This is one of the biggest humanitarian crises in Europe since World War II,” he noted. “It’s more than just a ‘cold war.’ Millions are about to face frozen temperatures, and without our help, they’ve no way to keep warm. The most vulnerable could die.”
A woman identified only as Iryna, who lives some 145 kilometers (90 miles) north of Kyiv, the capital, said she has been stockpiling as much firewood as she can afford. “We got the cheapest they had at the sawmill,” she told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. “Good firewood costs at least ($165) per carload.”
Some of her neighbors chop furniture or dismantle outbuildings so they have wood to burn. Others are hastily making wood-burning stoves out of scrap metal. “We’ll stay warm somehow,” Iryna pledged.
With more than 1,100 towns and villages across Ukraine already plunged into power blackouts, millions of Ukrainians like Iryna will be desperate for heat and clamoring for hope this winter, Johnson said.
“Only the local churches have the people and facilities in place across Ukraine to provide safe refuge, winter warmth, and real hope through the Gospel message,” he explained. “We’re asking churches across America to show their support and join us in urgent prayer.”
He said his group hopes to generate supper through the website linked to the Ukraine Winter Heat and Hope Project at https://www.sga.org/ukrainewinterheat.
Founded in 1934, SGA helps “forgotten” orphans, widows, and families in Russia, the former Soviet countries of Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and Russian-speaking immigrants in Israel.
It says it is “caring for their physical needs and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. ” SGA supports an extensive grassroots network of local evangelical missionary pastors and churches in cities and rural villages across this vast region.
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