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 neighbouring 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 European Leadership Forum held each May in Poland, specific ways to help the Ukrainians, and how our Eastern European partners are doing.
How did the War in Ukraine affect ELF 2022? By God’s grace, we experienced no problems related to the war while we gathered with almost 600 ministry partners for the 2022 ELF. We did not cancel or delay any Forum events, and our safety was not compromised at any time. Additionally, we maintained constant communication with our partners in-country to ensure ELF never became a burden to the country’s ability to house refugees.
How did ministry leaders feel following ELF? Many ministry leaders reported feeling refreshed and encouraged by the time spent together with other Christians from Europe and around the world. Ministry leaders also felt that the knowledge and resources they had gained from attending ELF in past years prepared them to better face the effects of the war in their hometowns and among their congregations.
How will the War in Ukraine affect ELF 2023? We are praying fervently with our ministry partners that God would end the War in Ukraine well in advance of ELF 2023. In the meantime, we still plan to hold ELF 2023 from 20 - 25 May. We will release more details as we come closer to the next Forum, and of course, we recognize that future global events may affect our decision.
Peter Saunders, former ELF Steering Committee member and CEO of the International Christian Medical and Dental Association (ICMDA), shares that the organisation has raised over $500,000 to ship medicines and medical supplies into Ukraine. The ICMDA writes,
"Recent offers have included over 100 anaesthetic machines from London hospitals and over four million pounds worth of medicines, bandages and ophthalmic equipment from pharmaceutical companies. But we are now running out of money to fund the operation with almost all of our last £60,000 already committed. Please pray for an end to the war, that people continue to give to the appeal and that vital supply lines stay open."
You can give to this appeal.
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.