The Christian ministry Joni and Friends has launched efforts to rescue people with disabilities who have been caught in the middle of the ongoing Ukrainian-Russian war.
Christian author and speaker Joni Eareckson-Tada, who was permanently disabled during a diving accident more than 50 years ago, was on CBN News Prayer Link to explain how her ministry has responded to the conflict abroad.
"Just imagine if you're a quadriplegic like me. I can't use my hands. I'm in a wheelchair, and if you were on the seventh floor of an apartment building and you're in Mariupol being bombed, and there were rocket strikes, it's not like you can jump out of bed, grab a few things, rush out the front door, make a dash for the border," Eareckson-Tada told CBN News in a recent interview.
"You can't do that. And so, a lot of these people with disabilities are stuck in apartment buildings. A lot of them are in basements," she continued.
Joni and Friends, which specializes in sharing the Gospel and practical resources with people with disabilities, has been working with ministry partners to help people evacuate the warzone.
"We've been working with our in-country partner Galina," Eareckson-Tada shared. "Galina and our teams have been out searching for these people even in the most dangerous eastern parts of Ukraine to rescue them and get them across the border and to safe haven in not only Poland but Germany and the Netherlands. And we've evacuated over 300 people with disabilities thus far and caregivers and we're still active," she said.
The Russian invasion, which began on Feb. 24, has also halted the ministry's efforts to construct a disability center in Ukraine called Joni's House.
"We quickly pivoted and all the concrete, all the cement, the cinder blocks, the lumber, everything ready to go for the construction of Joni's House in Ukraine, we suddenly reallocated, redirected to be used to sure up homes and care facilities for the elderly, to protect people with disabilities," Eareckson-Tada explained.
"So, those items all were put to good use not in constructing a Joni's House but, of course, barricading people so that they might have a safe haven," she noted.
According to CBN News, Eareckson-Tada further noted that Christian volunteers have been putting their lives at risk by traveling to areas where the fighting is happening in order to help those in need.
"Just the Christians who are volunteering to drive these buses along the corridors where there is heavy shelling, even the drivers of these vans are taking a great risk," she said.
During the interview, Eareckson-Tada asked Christians to pray for those involved in the rescue efforts in Ukraine.
"These people are exhausted, shell-shocked, but nevertheless, they're practicing Christianity with its sleeves rolled up," she explained. "And so, please pray for Galina and her network of friends who are making the valiant effort and very brave and courageous efforts to go into the most dangerous parts and find these people with disabilities and bring them to safety."
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Alberto E. Rodriguez/Staff
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.