As millions of Ukrainians have been displaced during the war, a ministry organization is showing Ukrainian people they're not forgotten.
It's been almost a year since Russia invaded Ukraine. While thousands of people have fled their country and are now refugees, many families stay for multiple reasons.
A Jesus Mission, a Christian ministry is partnering with local churches to help those in need by bringing food, supplies, and the word of God to people in need.
"We’ve always said we wanted to be on the edge of the crisis, and because of our relationships with people inside Ukraine, we had no choice but to get off the bench and just become a part of the solution," says Andy Zeissman, with A Jesus Mission in an interview. "The expression of risk, and the willingness to take a risk, opens the door for the Gospel to go forward more than anything else."
At the start of the war, the ministry purchased a few vans and began bringing supplies into active war zones.
"When we go to villages they have no food, no water and electricity half the time," says Zeissman. "The goal is to just keep taking food as close to the frontlines as we can."
The ministry doesn't work alone. They partner with local churches to not only disperse food but also share the hope of the gospel to weary travellers.
"We get into Ukraine, we have our vans that say, ‘Jesus Mission Aid Vehicle,’ but besides that, we’re just working with the local church, because that’s how people are going to be most benefitted. Just by bringing food to the church, we can really equip them to do the long game, which is years of work. In a sense, we bring people physical food, but if we work through the local church, people get to eat twice, because that church will spiritually feed people. So, our heart is to facilitate the Ukrainian church everywhere we go."
To show the Western world what is going on and stir people to help, A Jesus Mission has just released a documentary called Into Ukraine: A Story of Being the Church in a Warzone.
"I sat down with a 19-year-old young woman who mentioned that a month earlier, she had tried to evacuate," says Zeissman. "We said, ‘Well, what do you need? We’ll take you out, we’ll get a van down there.’ And she said that if she stayed, at least there was hope. I said, ‘What do you mean?’ And she said, basically, leaving is giving up. She broke down crying and revealed that she had just gotten married, and her husband couldn’t leave the country. He was on the frontlines of the war."
Stories like these are endless, according to the ministry, but where these missionaries have seen incredible devastation, they've also seen God show up in a big way.
"We saw grown men and pastors bawling because the miracle that they’d prayed for, that food and relief would come, came to be," says the Executive Director of A Jesus Mission, Pierce Westfall. "God’s doing things. To see people in tears, literally on their knees, begging God for their daily bread and then you show up and you can be a part of that solution — it’s humbling. There are a thousand stories like that. Any time you see the devastation, you also see the glory of God moving in the midst and redeeming as He always does."
While A Jesus Mission hopes to see people moved to pray or donate to this cause where millions are affected, the Executive Director also believes the film can impact change wherever people are.
"Our hope is that people would see the Ukrainian Church as a people being stirred by compassion, and more importantly, see how they responding to that. Our hope is that people would be served by compassion for the people in their cities and neighbourhoods, and they’d see their longsuffering and respond to that."