Slavic Gospel Association launches emergency appeal as drones, missiles devastate Ukraine's power grid; calls for 'urgent prayer'
LOVES PARK, Ill. -- A U.S.-based mission has launched a massive 'heat and hope' project to rush generators and critical supplies of firewood, coal and thermal blankets to local churches helping Ukrainian families facing a brutal and potentially deadly winter.
The Ukraine Winter Heat and Hope Project, organized by Illinois-based Slavic Gospel Association (SGA, www.sga.org), is partnering with hundreds of local churches persevering to make sure displaced and desperate Ukrainians "stay warm and find hope" during the expected winter freeze.
Drone attacks and missiles have wiped out more than one-third of Ukraine's power grid, causing rolling blackouts and cutting off electricity to more than one million households.
SGA's lifesaving project will help local churches across Ukraine turn their facilities into "centers of heat and hope" where families can shelter and stay warm when the bitter cold rolls in.
"The need is huge, and the crisis is upon us," said Pastor Igor Bandura ,vice president of the Ukrainian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists, representing more than 2,000 churches across the nation. "The spirit of Ukrainians is still strong. Our people are not in panic, but thousands are struggling."
Churches 'Bursting At Seams'
As the crisis deepens, Ukraine's churches -- once struggling to fill their pews -- are bursting at the seams amid a spiritual revival. "Our churches are full every Sunday," Pastor Bandura said.
With SGA's support, local churches and determined pastors on the frontlines have been delivering food parcels, providing 7 million meals, and sharing the hope of the Gospel message since the war started.
As the Heat and Hope Project ramps up in the coming weeks, blankets and generators will be shipped from neighboring Germany and Poland, while firewood and coal will be purchased locally in Ukraine.
SGA's evangelical church network -- cultivated over nearly 90 years through communism and the Cold War era -- is "the most effective, grassroots way to get aid to the people who need it the most," said the organization's president Michael Johnson.
"This is one of the biggest humanitarian crises in Europe since World War II," he said. "It's more than just a 'cold war.' Millions are about to face frozen temperatures, and without our help they've no way to keep warm.
"The most vulnerable could die."
'We'll Stay Warm Somehow'
Iryna, who lives 90 miles north of Kyiv, has been stockpiling as much firewood as she can afford to buy. "We got the cheapest they had at the sawmill," she told Radio Liberty. "Good firewood costs at least ($165) per carload."
Some of her neighbors are chopping up furniture or dismantling outbuildings so they have wood to burn. Others are hastily making wood-burning stoves out of scrap metal.
"We'll stay warm somehow," Iryna said, resolutely.
With more than 1,100 towns and villages across Ukraine already plunged into power blackouts, millions of Ukrainians like Iryna will be desperate for heat and clamoring for hope this winter, Johnson said.
"Only the local churches have the people and facilities in place across Ukraine to provide safe refuge, winter warmth, and real hope through the Gospel message," he said. "We're asking churches across America to show their support and join us in urgent prayer."
People can support the Ukraine Winter Heat and Hope Project at https://www.sga.org/ukrainewinterheat.
Founded in 1934, Slavic Gospel Association (SGA, www.sga.org) helps "forgotten" orphans, widows and families in Russia, the former Soviet countries of Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and Russian-speaking immigrants in Israel – caring for their physical needs and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. SGA supports an extensive grassroots network of local evangelical missionary pastors and churches in cities and rural villages across this vast region.
SOURCE Slavic Gospel Association