By Kevin Armbrust
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) Office of International Mission (OIM) recently met with leaders and representatives of Lutheran church bodies throughout Eastern Europe to learn more about and further support the aid given to refugees from the war in Ukraine.
“We have the command of our Lord to love our neighbor, and especially of the household of faith,” said the Rev. James A. Krikava, associate executive director of the OIM, Eurasia and Asia Operations. “We do have members of the household of faith coming to us. We want to help them, even though the household is a bit messy at this point.”
Tomas Gulan, a religion teacher at a Lutheran high school in Slovakia, reported that the school has received 350 refugees. For the time being, the school has shifted its focus from teaching to providing social ministry to help as many people as possible, including receiving some Ukrainian students into the school. The students are from families who have fled Ukraine and need not only instruction but a place to live.
Refugees from Ukraine continue to escape to any place that will accept them. Many countries have allowed refugees to enter and travel freely when trains and planes are available. Lutherans in these countries are lending aid where and when possible, including in their own homes.
“Please express our thanks to the congregations [of the LCMS] who have provided for those in need. It is very important,” said the Rev. Mindaugas Sabutis, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Lithuania. “We open our doors to sinners. … We are seeking to share the Gospel with them and to pray. These people are in a very post-traumatic situation. They came to us with nothing. We try to be sure that we will provide help … to carry this cross with these people for a long time.”
The Rev. Sorin-Horia Trifa, a Romanian Lutheran pastor supported by the LCMS, noted in a recent email that the church in Ukraine is facing a dire and worsening situation.
“The Ukrainian Lutherans in Odesa [part of the Synod of Evangelical Lutheran Churches in Ukraine], with whom we are in daily contact, have told us that they no longer have the resources to survive in Ukraine,” said Trifa. “They urgently need food and medicine, some of which is extremely important, such as insulin. …
“Faced with such a situation, the Confessional Lutheran Church in Romania mobilized. We bought [and delivered] food and medicine using financial resources provided by the LCMS. … Most likely, in the near future, we will have to repeat this operation because Odesa is no longer supplied with the resources necessary for daily life, especially vital medicines.”
Though most of the people of the LCMS may not physically travel to Eastern Europe to improve the chaotic situation there, their prayers and support for the Synod’s partners and friends in Europe continue to witness to the love and mercy of Christ.
“Our fervent prayers and continued desire to support our dear brothers and sisters in crisis have never been stronger,” said the Rev. Kevin D. Robson, LCMS chief mission officer. “We want to help care for peoples’ needs and especially to join them to God’s precious Word and Sacraments.”
Posted March 25, 2022/Updated March 29, 2022