$500,000 for Ukraine Winter Help!

by David Nakhla

For months we have asked you to pray that the Lord would guide us to the best avenues by which the over $700,000 in Ukraine Crisis Funds could be used.  Your faithful prayers have led to many productive discussions and hopeful decisions. You might recall the trip I took through five countries in Eastern Europe, meeting 10 times in nine days, back in May.  While in Krakow, Poland, I met over coffee with Jon Eide, the MTW Country Director for Ukraine.

Since that time, I have met with Jon five or six times, asking him to recommend the best ways that the OPC Ukraine Crisis Fund could be used in the ministry to those suffering from the war in Ukraine.  In November we received the answer entitled: “Winter Help!”  And subsequently, the Refugee Ministry Subcommittee of the Committee on Diaconal Ministries determined to send $500,000 of your gifts to MTW. This money is to be used to assist the congregations of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPCU), the denomination with whom MTW and OPC Missionary Heero Hacquebord serves in planting a congregation in L’viv, in the following three ways:

1.)     $150,000 for the one-time provision of generators and other winter costs to equip Ukrainians for the cold, dark winter that is upon them 

2.)     $300,000 for six months of operating expenses donated to 17 congregations and ministries to enable the diaconal ministries of the congregations to continue 

3.)     $50,000 for other diaconal and humanitarian aid opportunities carried out by MTW and the EPCU congregations

Thank you for your contributions that have made this possible. Pray with us that the Lord would use this ministry of mercy for the good of the saints and to bring glory to Christ amid extremely difficult circumstances.


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The Poignant Plight of the Asylum Seeker

by Pat Hatch, Refugee and Immigrant Ministry Director, PCA Mission to North America

Imagine: 

You work as a lawyer in a developing country, and your work exposes the fact that government officials are raping civilians in your community.  As your work becomes known, you begin to receive death threats.  Not long after, you are beaten, causing permanent partial hearing loss. As soon as you are recovered, you begin your work again, undeterred. But then you get a note saying: “We know where you are, and what you are doing. This time, we will not leave you alive.” This time, you know you have to flee. 

When you arrive in a nearby country, you find out that your homeland government is still tracking you for reprisal. You flee to yet another country, where you go into hiding. 

Eventually you manage to escape to the US on a visitor’s visa, and you begin the difficult process of applying for asylum. For two years you sleep on couches, never far from homelessness. In order to survive, you frequently have to beg for food and shelter.

This is the TRUE story of one of the more than 432,000 asylum seekers* currently in the US. A significant number of them are believers in Christ. Many of them were professionals in their homeland. In the majority of cases, the reason they have had to flee is related to a value that we as Americans hold dear (freedom of speech, religion, political opinion, etc.) Regardless of their previous occupation or religion or ethnicity, they are all persons created in the image of God and of great value to Him. 

From a humanitarian standpoint, they resemble refugees in many ways. But there is no nationwide public/private infrastructure to support asylum seekers while they wait many months or years for their case to be scheduled for a hearing. Unlike refugees, they are not allowed to even apply for a work permit for at least 6 months, and it can take additional months to several years for the permit to arrive. They are not eligible for any safety net benefits. They must survive during this time without any income or access to any basic social services.

The reality is that many have no choice other than to beg food or shelter from any person they might know or meet, or to work “under the table,” in order to survive until their case is eventually heard. This makes them vulnerable to many kinds of abuse (including sexual exploitation.) They struggle with hunger, and homelessness always imminent. Some resort to homeless shelters and may become victims of crime. These hardships compound the severe trauma most have experienced before arrival, as well as their separation from loved ones for the indefinite future, and the psychological burden of being in limbo for an undetermined length of time as they navigate the complex, time-consuming, and unpredictable asylum process. 

Asylum seekers have urgent, very basic needs—particularly sustainable housing and food. But as of 2022, there are virtually no government services for asylum seekers and only about a dozen independent non-profit organizations in the entire country (only a few of them Christian) which are trying to assist asylum seekers with these needs. A total of only approximately 400 beds are available at any given time for more than 400,000 asylum seekers. 

Churches and individual believers have an incredible opportunity to welcome asylum seekers in practical ways and walk with them as they continue their long and arduous journey of finding a new place to belong after fleeing their homelands due to fear for their lives!

To learn more about refugee ministry in the OPC and how your local congregation can demonstrate mercy toward refugees and asylum seekers, visit our Refugee Ministry Page.

*The American Immigration Council defines an asylum seeker in the US as “any person who has fled from their home country for fear of their lives being jeopardized due to their race, religion, nationality, gender, membership in a social group, or political opinion, and has asked the United States to grant them asylum.” 

(For more true stories of asylum seekers, visit https://www.dashnetwork.net/who-we-serve/real-stories-testimonies/).

**For more on the differences betweenrefugees and asylum seekers, visit DASH’s helpful webpage on the topic: https://www.dashnetwork.net/who-we-serve/asylum-seekers-vs-refugees/.


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CDM Meeting in Clarkston, Georgia

The Committee on Diaconal Ministries met for their

stated bi-annual meetings on April 7–8. This year, they met at

Redeemer OPC in Atlanta, Georgia, the hosting church for

the Clarkston Refugee Ministry, which the CDM supports.

This meeting was an opportunity for many of the members

of the CDM to visit the refugee ministry for the first

time. “[Pastors Weldeyesus and Tamirat’s] fervor for the gospel

and their heart for people was wonderful to experience.

Clearly they have a gift for reaching into the lives of those

who have lost country, home, and precious relationships,”

shared committee member Ron de Ru.

CDM member Seth Long agreed. “I was most impressed

with sitting in the living rooms of families who have fled persecution

and danger . . . and the ways they are desiring to now

provide for their families in a land and culture much different

from their own. It was truly wonderful to see how the Lord in

his good providence is gathering families to be connected to

the gospel outreach work of the church, caring for the spiritual

and physical needs of the stranger in our midst.”
[This article was originally published in the June 2022 Edition of New Horizons]

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