North Carolina Baptists will be among other Southern Baptist relief efforts in Eastern Europe this week to assist with the growing humanitarian crisis that has resulted from the Russian military invasion of Ukraine.
The state’s Baptists on Mission group will have teams of volunteers in Poland and Hungary to assist with the massive wave of refugees who are fleeing the war in Ukraine.
A six-person team was scheduled to depart for Poland on March 4, and a 12-person team is scheduled to depart for Hungary on March 7. Poland and Hungary are the two countries that are receiving the largest number of refugees from Ukraine, according to reports from the United Nations. As of March 3, nearly 548,000 people had entered Poland from Ukraine, and more than 133,000 others had entered Hungary. Overall, more than one million people have reportedly fled Ukraine in less than a week since the onset of Russia’s invasion.
The Poland team will meet with ministry partners and local church leaders to assess and plan for future relief efforts while also providing immediate assistance with the refugee crisis.
Tom Beam, Baptists on Mission disaster relief coordinator, will lead the Poland team. The team will also include two longtime international disaster relief volunteers, a retired medical doctor and representatives from two other Baptist state conventions.
The Hungary team is being coordinated by Teresa Jones, who leads Baptists on Mission’s long-standing Roma partnership. The team to Hungary will serve in both Budapest and along the Hungarian-Ukrainian border, providing relief supplies and other assistance to refugees.
The team will assist Baptists on Mission’s in-country coordinator Alicia Jones in ministering to refugees being housed in one of several schools along the Hungarian border where North Carolina Baptist volunteers have served for many years through cooperative ministry work with partner organization Hungarian Baptist Aid.
Going to help ‘family’
Baptists on Mission has a long history of serving in Eastern European nations like Hungary, Poland, Romania and Ukraine that dates back to the late 1980s.
“Because of that long-term relationship, we feel like we are going to help the family,” Beam said. “To many of our volunteers and churches, they are family.”
Baptists on Mission are encouraging North Carolina Baptists to pray, give and go to support relief efforts in Ukraine.
The group has established a portal through which individuals or churches can receive prayer updates, make a financial contribution to the relief efforts and sign up as a prospective volunteer to serve in the region on a future missions team.
For more information, visit baptistsonmission.org/ukraine-crisis.