Over the last weeks and months, we have all watched and prayed as the crisis in Ukraine unfolded. We pray for our Ukrainian brothers and sisters facing daily attacks, for the neighboring countries offering refuge, and for a restoration of peace.
As we actively monitor this volatile situation, we recognize that many of our participants, volunteers, speakers, and partners have questions about the upcoming European Leadership Forum, specific ways to help the Ukrainians, and how our Eastern European partners are doing.
Many have asked us “Are you going to cancel the in-person ELF in Wisla?” We are moving forward and are planning to host the European Leadership Forum in Wisla. But obviously, we don’t know the future, and something may happen that could prevent it. We are very closely monitoring the situation with Ukraine and are in contact with European partners to keep us informed.
What factors are we considering as we decide whether or not to hold ELF in Wisla? We are monitoring the Ukrainian conflict itself, the status of Ukrainian refugees coming into Poland, and the stability of Polish infrastructure to support our participants, speakers, and volunteers traveling into and out of the country. The ability to gather safely is our top priority.
What happens if it becomes unsafe to hold ELF in person? Our continued prayer and expectation is that we will be able to safely gather in Wisla. Should the situation change, we will shift to an online ELF as we have done the last two years. But we believe that the best thing we can do in this crisis is to gather together as believers in Christ, pray for Ukraine, and trust that God will lead us by his sovereign power.
Will our coming to Poland impact Poland’s capacity for refugees? We are in close contact with Hotel Gołębiewski to ensure we will not be a burden on the hotel or on the country’s ability to house refugees.
Josiah Venture has created a page with information on supporting Ukrainian refugees.
Above all, we affirm the power of corporate prayer. We know that God is in control, and yet conflict is inevitable in our fallen world. We rest on the words of Jesus:
“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet… But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matt. 24:6, 13-14)
May the God of peace grant us peace in the midst of such heartbreaking conflict.
For further ways to pray, see former ELF speaker Erwin Lutzer’s beautiful Prayer to Renounce Fear.
Dave Patty, President of Josiah Venture
We are throwing all extra financial and human resources towards the situation in Ukraine. We have brought 19 full busloads of people across the border and sent over 30 tons of food (enough for 120,000 meals) to key church hubs in Ukraine in the last 10 days. Because of the level of human need and crisis, I want our team to stay focused on Ukraine.
Emanuel Tundrea, ELF Steering Committee Member
We already know we live in a spiritual war, but the horrific face of the military war is a more vivid example. We committed to prepare every other day a round of food for 300 refugees. Students, faculty and friends took in families of our Ukrainian alumni and their friends while they remained in Ukraine to serve those who could not leave. Please pray!!!
Adam Szabados, Theologian and Director of the Hungarian Evangelical Forum
Our job was to bring resources from the help center to a meeting point right at the border and welcome those from the Ukraine who come through by car. We stopped the car a few meters after they crossed the border, greeted those inside, and asked them which city they came from. Then we gave them drinks, food, diapers, baby food, chocolates and toys to the children. We asked them if they needed a place to stay. Then we blessed them.
Here is what happened 99% of the time. As soon as these frightened people realized that they were received with love, they broke into tears. That was probably the point when they realized that they were out of a war zone but also that their homes were gone, their lives were in ruins - and they were without the men (husbands, fathers, sons, brothers) whom they might never see again.
Pray for these fleeing people. And pray for us, also, who try to help, so we can give both immediate relief and sustainable help with love, mercy, wisdom, and proper judgment.
See also Adam's video update.
Andrew Gorski, Director of the Polish Leadership Forum
Well, here’s the short update on the situation from Poland. The churches and all of the Poles are absolutely fantastic. Everyone, I mean everyone is helping! It’s like a national uprising. It's so encouraging. Our small church is offering 17 places to stay in homes. We’re opening doors for a family of up to 5 to stay with us. Believers in Poznan are sharing information/needs and how they want to help. In three days an estimated 200,000 refugees came to Poland. Many Poles drive all the way to the Ukrainian border to just pick up families and take them home. Sometimes they drive for 6-7 hours one way. It's unbelievable.