Moldovan Baptists remove sheets from their beds to help Ukrainian refugees
BOZIENI, Moldova (IMB) – Moldova, a small, impoverished country bordering Ukraine, has taken in about one refugee for every 25 Moldovans. Most of the refugees are housed and cared for by the churches of the Moldavian Baptist Union.
The Moldavian Baptist Union has more than 400 churches. When Russia invaded Ukraine, Moldovan Baptists worked quickly to create a safe space for refugees – building a chapel hall in a day, building an attic to accommodate more refugees, using a children’s summer camp as a shelter and summoning volunteers to cook three meals a day. .
Already known for their hospitality, the generosity of Moldovans only increased after refugees began making haggard journeys across the border. Elderly men and women removed the sheets from their beds to give to the refugees. Petrol prices have emptied wallets, but that hasn’t stopped Moldovan churches from sending vans to the border to pick up refugees.
Moldova was once an agricultural mecca and was considered the breadbasket of the Soviet Union, with rich soil farmland and vineyards stretching for miles. When the Soviet occupation ended, Russia took all the agricultural equipment and infrastructure that once made Moldova so prosperous. The economic consequences have been devastating – Moldova has the lowest GDP per capita in Europe.
For Moldovan Baptists, it was never a question of whether they would give whatever it took to help Ukrainians. Jesus said to love their neighbour, and they really love their neighbour.
Slavic Duman is the pastor of Dancu Baptist Church in Dancu, Moldova. The congregation converted their church into a sanctuary for refugees. The church was recently renovated, and just in time. They are now equipped to accommodate refugees who are staying either short term or long term.
In addition to providing accommodation for refugees, the children’s home and the church provide counselling.
Duman said the generosity of Moldovans had moved many Ukrainians to tears.
“We came to these people. They are poor. How will they take care of us? Duman heard from refugees. “They know Moldova is a poor country and they don’t want to be a burden on us.
“We have so many brothers and sisters in Christ from America and other countries praying for you. They are helping us so that we can help you,” Duman told them.
Providing beds, a chapel and Jesus
After realizing the immense need for housing, Ion Burlacu, pastor and director of Bozieni Children’s Home in Bozieni, Moldova, converted the second floor of the building to accommodate refugees. And, realizing the opportunity they had to care for the refugees spiritually, they built a chapel in one day. With the smell of new paint lingering, the church was immediately put into use. The children’s home can accommodate 117 people. By the end of March, the church had sheltered 214 refugees.
Outside the church, the men hastened to work. The metallic roar of metal grinders echoed as workers constructed metal bed frames to hold donated mattresses. Workers were also in the eaves moving plywood to build an attic to place more mattresses.
During a feast of freshly prepared traditional Moldovan dishes and a presentation of a gourmet restaurant, Burlacu said the refugees asked why they were going to so much trouble.
“That question is how do we start our discussion with them and introduce them to Christ,” Burlacu said.
Every refugee who passes through the children’s home hears the gospel and many want to know more.
“If they come today, and we know tomorrow they will go, we will do our best, whatever we can, to share the gospel, because we don’t know if they will have another chance to hear the gospel,” Burlacu said. .
He said refugees ask tough questions like “Why is this happening” and “Why would God let this happen?” »
He said they didn’t have the answers, but they told them they knew God was in control.
A Ukrainian-Korean woman staying at the house said she, her daughters and grandchildren walked nine miles to the border in the cold and found a van from Bozieni Children’s Home.
The matriarch collapsed and covered her face to hide her pain and tears.
“We’ve walked so far, so far,” her voice cracked, the journey weighing heavily on her.
During Stalin’s rule, Koreans living on the Russian side of the border between Russia and North and South Korea were dispersed and dispersed across the Soviet Empire to prevent any uprisings and dissent. Many Koreans were transferred to Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and some, like this family, moved to Ukraine.
Facing another generational forced migration, the Korean-Ukrainian family found solace in a Moldovan children’s home.
Burlacu said they take Matthew 7:1 to heart. They treat neighbors the way they want to be treated.
“The whole church understood that was our call,” Burlacu said.
Their call to serve has no time limit. Refugees from Bozieni Children’s Home and Dancu Baptist Church can stay as long as they wish.
“We want to acknowledge that we are a bit tired, but at the same time we also feel encouraged. We have gratitude, their thanks and their hugs. It shows us how grateful they are and how encouraged they are. The church also understands how God is working through us during this time,” Burlacu said.
“We are more encouraged than tired. The fatigue is short-lived, but the joy we experience is for eternity,” he continued.