One would think that the most-requested items for the refugees fleeing their homes in Ukraine would be related to physical needs – food, clothing, warm shelter. However, I’ve heard a number of stories from friends on the ground in Eastern Europe that this is not the case – there is something else these refugees need.
I’m reminded of the quote attributed to Hal Lindsey: “Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air...but only for one second without hope.”
We are seeing this played out before our eyes as our ministry partners on the ground in Poland and Romania, receiving refugees and providing them with food and water and a place to stay, are often hearing the question “Do you have any Bibles?” Some of the people asking for Bibles are believers already, who in the hurry to escape Ukraine may have left their Bibles at home or given them to others who they felt needed them more. But we are hearing that many people who have not previously been interested in following Christ are now seeking the hope that only He can provide.
Perhaps the refugees are seeking out Bibles and opening their hearts because of the nearness of death in time of war. Or perhaps it’s because of the untold number of Christian ministries and churches who were the ones to mobilize quickly on the front lines to welcome the refugees and support them during this difficult time. Their genuine love, joy and peace in the midst of such a tumultuous circumstance must be a great blessing to individuals who have left their homes and loved ones behind with only the clothes on their backs or what they could carry in a suitcase.
I also wonder if it might be the unity and the solidarity exhibited by all those same churches and ministries that are helping to spark the attention of the refugees. There are volunteers – across all denominations and cultural backgrounds – coming together in the name of Christ to serve those in need. It doesn’t matter what language you speak, where you attended church or if you never have, they are working together to serve you in Jesus’ name, putting aside their own preconceived biases or minor theological differences to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
Some ministry partners have taken on dangerous roles, remaining behind with the soldiers in Ukraine to help fight, protect and support the troops. We have heard stories from our ministry partner Vanya in Kyiv who is serving in the role of a chaplain on the frontlines, knowing that so many of the men fighting for Ukraine aren’t prepared spiritually. He’s praying for and sharing God’s Word with them so that they, too, can receive the hope necessary for facing the prospect of eternity with peace in their hearts.
We’ve learned from history that times of great upheaval and displacement can be fertile ground for God’s Word to take root in the hearts and lives of those who don’t yet know Him, as they experience the love of Christ lived out before them, and then come to know the peace of Jesus and the comfort of His Spirit. Physical comfort and peace are commodities that are in short supply right now, so that hope of His presence truly does become the sustenance necessary for continuing to move forward when the future is uncertain if not downright grim.
At a time when everyone is frightened and no one knows what to expect, with many unanswered questions, it is so helpful that we have the unchanging Word of God to share. While we can’t provide answers about the immediate future, we can provide bedrock truth about the hope of eternity. And while we have no guarantees of peace in this lifetime, we can share about the Prince of Peace who will guard our hearts and keep our minds at perfect peace when our thoughts are focused on Him.
We know that our friends in Ukraine have that peace, and feel our prayers on their behalf, letting us know that they have been able to stay focused on sharing with others rather than being frightened by the present circumstances. We ask that you continue praying with us for their peace and safety and that this war would be brought to a swift resolution.
The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Christian Headlines.
Photo courtesy: Unsplash
Dirk Smith is Vice President of EEM, which has been delivering God’s Word to the people of Eastern Europe since 1961, now reaching 32 countries in 25 languages. He and his teammates share powerful stories of what God’s Word can accomplish in the new “55:11 Podcast,” based on the Isaiah 55:11 Scripture. Learn more at www.eem.org/5511podcast.