Youth With A Mission are opening their doors to thousands of refugees.

Written by Dag Buhagen, Norge Idag. Translation: Neil deSoto

REFUGEES: Youth With A Mission, and 32 local churches in the city Ternopil, are receiving thousands that are fleeing from the war acts in Ukraine. The picture is taken Saturday February 26th. Photo: Youth With A Mission

At the Youth With A Mission center location in the city of Ternopil in Ukraine, local Christians are ready to receive thousands of refugees over the coming days. The churches in the city will give them food, clothing, housing, and God’s love.

– The situation is very difficult, with war being fought in several places in Ukraine. There are shots and bombs, and many people flee to us, says Sasha Volyanyk to Norge IDAG.

Sasha is the leader of the missions organization Youth With A Mission in the East-Europe region. In total, YWAM has five locations in Ukraine and around 100 staff.

When Norge IDAG is calling Sasha, he is staying in the city of Ternopil, which lies in western Ukraine, 500 kilometers from the capital city Kyiv, three hours by car from the border to Poland.

– It has been calm in the area during the first days of the war, but still we have had to go to bomb shelters, since there have been threats against the airport in the area. Thank God nothing happened! he says.

Homes are opened

Sasha tells that the community of pastors in the city is very good and that the churches are cooperating well. There are 32 evangelical churches in the city. Lately the pastors have come together ever morning to pray. The most important thing going forward will be to receive people that are fleeing from active warzones.

– They come to the YWAM location where we register them and give them food. They are then sent on to different churches, where they have the opportunity to stay one to three days. Some decide to move on afterwards, while those who wish to stay are connected with church members who have opened their homes to refugees. In these first days, we expect one thousand refugees per day. Eventually it will probably increase fivefold, says Sasha.

– This situation is completely new for us. We had war in 2014, but it was very far from us, and did not impact us to any large degree.

Trusting God’s promises

Sasha explains that Youth With A Mission in Ukraine was started in 1993. With five locations, they have, among other things, mission schools, family work, King’s Kids, and work among refugees and homeless. In recent times, most focus has been on the work with refugees and homeless.

– There is an expression saying “Take one day at a time”. For us, it is “Take one hour at a time”. One day is too long, since we don’t know what will happen next. We don’t think too far into the future now, but we stand on the promises God has given to us as a nation. We know that to reach the future plans God has for Ukraine, we must also pay a price. What we are going through now is one of the costs we must pay. Even though it is painful, we say “Your will be done, God”.

The church is the most important

– Do you experience that is is easier for people to seek God in times of war?

– Yes! According to statistics, the church is the institution that has the highest trust among the people in the country. In second place is the military. When we go through wars and the churches pray, people are met with peace. We saw the same thing when war broke out in Eastern Ukraine in 2014. In that time the church played the most important role in regards to communicating peace and God’s love to the people, along with helping people in need.

Big response to fundraising in Norway

In Norway, Youth With A Mission has begun a fundraising campaign for the work in Ukraine. Monday afternoon they have, after only a few days, passed NOK 1.3 million, Andreas Nordli, leader of Youth With A Mission Norway, tells Norge IDAG.

– It has been incredible to see the joy of those giving, both individually and as churches. Yesterday, there were over 20 churches in Norway that took up offerings for this work. We have only run a small Facebook campaign, and run small advertisements in newspapers. Many want to join in giving, says Nordli.