More than a Charity

Jun 7, 2022

Imagine you just moved into your brand-new house. You’re eating lunch in your new backyard and suddenly it gets bombed. I know you must be thinking, “She watches way too many Sci-Fi movies.” But actually, this is what’s happening right now in Ukraine. Many of the refugees we’ve been helping told us that they had just finished renovating their homes or that they had just moved into a brand-new apartment right before this all started. Can you imagine how much they had to leave behind without even a second glance back?

Our church (International Church of Bucharest) really stepped up to help the refugees. At the moment we have 12 beds available in the church. It does sound small when you compare that to the thousands who are fleeing Ukraine, but our church people have also become host families.

Most of the families that come for help are exhausted and hungry. So, we feed them and give them a nice warm bed to sleep in. But that’s not all. As my mom likes to say, “We are more than a charity, we are a ministry.” I can’t remember one refugee we have met with whom my mom hasn’t shared the gospel or given them a Bible. They literally walk out of the room with big smiles on their faces and holding a Bible. In Moldova my grandpa had the blessing of baptizing one Ukrainian refugee. A lot of Ukrainians are being ministered to, so as a result they are seeking God and asking spiritual questions.

One of my favorite examples of that is when we met a family of seven. They called one late night asking “Can you help us? We need a place to stay.” Looking at the time we decided to put them in the church because it was super late and most people are asleep at that hour. They decided to stay for about a week before going on their way to Germany to start their new life. Right before they left, the grandma who was the only Christian in the family told my mom that she’s been trying to witness to her son-in-law but he was never really willing or open to hear the gospel until now. He was so touched by our help and love towards them that this is the first time that he will reconsider the option of Christianity. Wow! How awesome is that!

While I’m just 14 years old and as my parents like to call me “immature” while I may not totally get everything in this world, I definitely know one thing for sure: a lot of innocent people are hurting right now.  While things here in Bucharest, Romania, seem so overwhelming to me, I’m not the one whose house got bombed or who had to leave everything behind, including family, belongings, friends, and even the best ice cream shop in town.

When the refugees flee Ukraine, some have just five minutes to pack. Don’t get me wrong, but what could you possibly pack in five minutes from departure? And the sad part is that they only pack necessities. I guess that makes sense, but I wouldn’t want to leave my Grogu (Baby Yoda) in a place that I may never see again. It’s so sad, but it’s the reality.

Most refugees we meet have only their clothes on their back. An example of that is when my grandma found a couple of Ukrainian boys picking up sticks on the rustic Moldovan roads. For what? To play with. As soon as she heard that, she did what any grandmother would do. She gave them a bag full of toys. As soon as the boys saw it, they were overjoyed.

We’re so grateful for the financial support. It has been such a blessing. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to purchase so many things that are needed. On top of that, it’s been such a blessing working with all the volunteers coming in from the U.S. They took a big risk to come to a far-away place and deal with us.

What I can tell you is that helping with the refugees really stretched me. First, I grew in patience. I’ve been taking care of a lot of refugee kids at the Ukrainian church service. And let’s just say that most of those kids are not “little miss innocent.” They are so disobedient, but I try to be understanding that these kids are going through a lot. With God’s help I haven’t lost my cool with them yet. Second, I learned that things can be very random. I’m the type of person who likes following a plan. This has helped me learn that it’s good to just “go with the flow.” Pray for me, I’ll need it:).

No matter what age you are, you are not too young to help. Just continue to pray that God will protect those in harm’s way and that God will give strength to all the volunteers. Here is a verse that I really like: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).

by Mina Esther Tully
(14 years old)
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