As the world watches, Ukrainians are being invaded by Russia and forced to flee from their homes. While the actual numbers are believed to be higher, it was reported today by national news sources today that 365 Ukrainians have been killed and 759 have been injured. We’ve seen the videos of families crying and praying as shots are fired and shells dropped in or near their homes. The world is watching as mothers and children wait it out in subway stations or bomb shelters throughout the Ukraine. It’s so heartbreaking and perhaps even traumatizing.
Many have denounced the actions and feel strong emotions toward those responsible. I’ve felt that too. But I want to do more than feel, I want to help. But what can I do? Are there things I can do to help those that are experiencing isolation, hunger, physical pain, death of loved ones, unemployment and loss of shelter? The answer is yes. There are two primary ways we can help at this time in the crisis:
- Prayer – prayer is the best way to face anything, especially a crisis. Prayer is a real connection to God and helps us as we petition God on behalf of others. God encourages us to cry out to Him when there is trouble. “Call out to me when trouble comes. I will save you. And you will honor me.” (Psalms 50:15; Psalm 91:15).
Here are some specific ways to pray:
- Pray for peace, asking God to bring an end to the violence and tension between these countries.
- Pray that God will redeem this situation by drawing people to himself.
- Pray those in the crisis will place their hope in Christ rather than governments, a powerful military or diplomacy.
- Pray that leaders will exercise wisdom and seek God about decisions being made.
- Pray for the safety of soldiers and their families while separated from them.
- Pray for the 1.5 million refugees who have been displaced that are now seeking safety, shelter and food.
- Pray that Christians in both countries will stand strong and boldly proclaim their faith as it is tested.
- Giving – giving is a way for us to bless those in the crisis as we’ve been blessed, and we certainly have been! Donating to relief efforts encourages a grateful and generous spirit in us as we determine in our heart to give and help others who are in need. “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
There are many organizations receiving financial gifts on behalf of the Ukrainian crisis and to whom you give is of utmost importance. Here are a few things to consider before writing a check or making a charge on your credit card:
- Research the organization you are giving through to ensure they are credible and have boots on the ground that can carry-out the response effort.
- Consider becoming a partner to the organization and giving over the long haul because relief and recovery efforts may take months, and sometimes even years.
- Support an organization that was there before the crisis and already invested in the people. Unfortunately, charities come out of the woodwork following a disaster and many don’t have the local network, infrastructure or relationships to efficiently and effectively distribute aid to victims.
- Make sure that the organization you are giving to is a registered non-profit with the state regulator. If you wish to receive a tax deduction for your gift, make sure that they are registered with the IRS as a tax-exempt organization. You can check this out at: https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/tax-exempt-organization-search
The Kentucky Baptist Convention (www.kybaptist.org/ukraine) is an organization collecting financial aid on behalf of the Ukrainian crisis. It is the organization that many choose to give through because it meets all the criteria outlined above. They have partners on the ground already providing aid. To date, our nationally partner, SEND Relief, has already dispersed almost a million dollars in aid. We have boots on the ground meeting needs because we were there prior to the crisis and have plans (Lord willing) to still be there when the dust settles. Additionally, a small portion of the financial aid received through the KBC will be used specifically to aid Ukrainian refugees who settle in Kentucky. If Ukrainian refugees don’t settle in Kentucky, any dollars withheld will be forwarded to our national partner, SEND Relief.
I can’t imagine being forced out of my home, community or country. But if it happened, I would find encouragement and strength in knowing that people everywhere are praying for me and giving financially toward my recovery.