“By awesome deeds you answer us with deliverance, O God of our salvation; you are the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas” (Psalm 65:5).
Together, we are reading through the Book of Psalms. This morning, we read Psalm 65, and as I read Psalm 65:5, I thought about the people of Ukraine and the surrounding nations. The word deliverance jumped out at me, and I prayed that God would bring deliverance to the Ukrainian people by ending this awful war. I also realized that God brings deliverance and hope through us. God can use us to help and to heal those who are in great need.
This past week, I attended the Spring Conference of Bishops meeting in Chicago. Bishop Jim Gonia, who serves in the Rocky Mountain Synod, and is our liaison to Lutheran Disaster Response and Lutheran World Relief, helped organize a collaborative response to the crisis currently underway in Ukraine and Eastern Europe. Bishop Gonia writes,
Crisis in Ukraine and Eastern Europe
Even with the lingering threat and Russian military movements in recent weeks, the escalation of violence within Ukraine came as a shock to many. The weight of grief is palpable as the people of Central and Eastern Europe shape their humanitarian response to the crisis in Ukraine.
Experiences of Soviet occupation are a living memory for many in Central and Eastern Europe. Even as our siblings in Christ organize their efforts to respond to the immediate needs of refugees fleeing Ukraine, many are understandably anxious about the possibility of what the future could bring.
We’ve heard as well from our Lutheran partners in Russia the grief they are experiencing. It is a grief for the violence unfolding in their name, but without their consent. It is a grief of the future, for ministries of their church and relationships with global Lutheran partners. Our siblings in Christ in Russia are facing the impact of financial sanctions and we will accompany them as they offer their witness for peace.
Accompaniment of the smaller Lutheran Churches in Central and Eastern Europe, Ecumenical and other partners has long been a regional priority for the ELCA. In this time of crisis, we accompany our partners with concrete support for their humanitarian efforts through Lutheran Disaster Response.
In collaboration with Lutheran, Ecumenical, and other partners, the ELCA is supporting efforts to address the immediate needs of refugees through creating and maintaining receptions centers on the border, providing shelter for those fleeing from violence as well as pastoral care. We are supporting our partner churches in Central Europe in their efforts to create a supply chain that can bring needed goods, such as medicine and food, across the border into Ukraine. In this acute crisis, we are uniting with the varied ministries of our partners as they respond to the needs of refugees from Ukraine, who are overwhelmingly women and children, as well as offering humanitarian support for internally displaced people still within Ukraine.
The violence in Ukraine will have long-term impacts throughout the region. It will be critical for the ELCA to continue to accompany churches and church agencies as they address the trauma that accompanies violence, dislocation, and family separation. Ministering to these needs is critically important and an area of expertise within several the programs we are supporting.
Please keep our companions and partners in Central and Eastern Europe in your prayers during these turbulent times.
Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland (ECACP),
Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Romania (ECACR),
Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Slovakia (ECACS),
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary,
German Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ukraine (GELCU),
and in collaboration with Lutheran World Federation (LWF).