More than 10.5 million people are now estimated to have been displaced either within Ukraine or around the world as a result of Russia's war, with an additional 3 million in urgent need of humanitarian aid, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency.
Meeting the needs of these people has required one of the greatest humanitarian efforts since the 1990s.
While donations and funding commitments toward humanitarian aid, relief, and rescue efforts in Ukraine continue to increase, now surpassing $12 billion, it is the individual efforts and donations made by the general public that are having the most immediate impact on the people in Ukraine.
“It’s not the big organizations that are bringing in the aid initially,” missionary Jed Gourley told the Washington Examiner, noting that it took larger groups longer to get organized and into the country. “It was networks of social groups and regular people that were doing the most work inside Ukraine.”
“Churches in the surrounding countries have really come and just stepped in, you know, to be that brother or sister,” Gourley added. “This network got together very quickly and worked together, so now we have a warehouse in Poland where we are receiving donations from people, pallets of food and medical supplies.”
Gourley, working from the nation of Georgia, works with California-based former missionary Phil Metzger, a pastor of Calvary Chapel San Diego and former director of Calvary Chapel Bible College Europe. Metzger has been overseeing logistics related to ordering food and supplies. Metzger also works with others to coordinate transportation of the items into and throughout Ukraine.
“The war is a chance to remember that these people are like my family suffering,” Metzger said, noting, “It’s not just a political thing” for governments and big organizations to handle. “When we, as Christians, think that way, we’re helping and doing the job of politicians.”
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Gourley added that he has seen the sacrifice of people’s genuine giving.
“If it doesn't cost anything, then you wonder if it really is love, or if it's just some kind of, like, warm blanket that's put over us, but I've seen some people making some very serious sacrifices.”
The relief efforts provide glimmers of hope to the Ukrainian people.
“I just kind of marvel at the strength of their faith,” Gourley said. “They’ve been through a lot of suffering when looking at the history of the country from World War II, Chernobyl, and then these conflicts with Russia,” referencing the current war, in addition to Russia’s 2014 Crimean invasion.
The donations are “inspiring people all around the world because of that hope and that expectation that [the Ukrainian people] are not just kind of suffering for suffering's sake, but they are soon going to be victorious and planning to rebuild. I think that's been kind of exciting.”
“We’re going to show people that we’re not afraid to love them,” Metzger added, noting the humanitarian efforts are not just monetary but sacrificial in evacuation efforts as well. “I can pray, I can give to help people, and I can connect myself to their pain for the sake of loving them better.”
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“It doesn’t matter what I think of Russia or Ukraine, or Putin or Zelensky. What does matter is to be unified as the body of Christ,” Metzger continued. “See yourself as connected to a much bigger, broader, deeper, and more beautiful movement.”