While the world watched the Russian invasion of Ukraine in horror and more than 3.7 million people fled across the borders for safety, the team at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale reached out to their friends in the region to lend a hand. Beyond prayer, the congregation has raised more than $300,000 to benefit those affected by the conflict and sent teams into the region to provide aid.
Through collaboration with their global ministry partners, Calvary immediately secured a castle near Frankfurt, Germany that could house up to 75 families. They’re also securing multiple locations in Italy, including a hotel that will house 54 women and children, as part of their resettlement efforts for refugees.
Paul Walker, executive pastor of ministries at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, helped make the connection. Formerly employed with the OneHope as the regional director for Europe, Walker explained, “Some of the people who helped us get OneHope going in Ukraine are the partners we reached out to because they became friends.”
Fortunately, Walker had also been in Germany in October for a ministry design session with a friend who was trying to figure out the best use for this castle, which had been sitting dormant for a couple of years because of COVID. “He was thinking about selling it, but we said let’s identify some Kingdom purposes for it. Then with the war – it was just the Lord – they pivoted very quickly and made that available to us.”
To date Calvary has helped resettle over 100 people and is focused on increasing housing opportunities in neighboring countries to support many more.
“We recognize this is going to be a process, so we have signed long term leases with these properties, so people aren’t being forced out after a few months. We’re also helping them get their documentation so they can get medical care and work if they need to. That’s the commitment we’re taking on with our partners, and we believe this is what Jesus has called us to do,” said Walker. “We can’t reach the entirety of the 3.7 million refugees, but the ones that God’s given us, we feel we can really enhance their quality of life and hopefully give them a safe place and a future.”
In addition, Calvary is actively sending mission teams to Germany who have experience in construction to build-out additional space in the castle to house more families. A team of three ladies from Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale recently spent 12 days with the Ukrainian women and children in Germany. “They took the ladies shopping, did their nails and let them feel human again,” Walker said. “Many of these women and children, are still so numb. They’ve had to evacuate sometimes within hours and grabbed whatever they could. And even the stories from the train are just horrific. So the teams are just trying to help normalize things and get them acclimated to their new surroundings.” Eventually Calvary also plans to send teams to work with the kids through soccer clinics, to provide emotional counseling and prayer support.
In addition, they are working closely with pastors in Ukraine who are risking their lives to help their community by temporarily housing them in a bomb shelter in the basement of their church before sending them to the border. At neighboring borders, we continue to send people and partners to assist in the careful transportation of women and children to these safe locations.
Walker explained that “with all the trafficking that’s happening at the border, it’s really important that people know who to look for. A couple from our church has been at the border so when people are crossing from Ukraine into Poland or Romania, the couple has their photo and knows the person they should be looking for, and they are not caught up in the trafficking.”
As they settle in, we come alongside to provide care, friendship, ministry, stability, comfort and counseling.
Support for the Ukrainian church
Support for the Ukrainian church is also being provided in the form of finances, food, medicine, clothing, safety and tactical gear, including helmets and vests. This week, due to the over-abundance of local donations to the castle in Germany, Calvary was able to load up a truck full of clothing and essential supplies and send them to the church in Ukraine. The border team also participated by purchasing additional food and medical supplies needed to add to the truck before it crossed back into Ukraine. “God has completely touched the surface of every step. Where we may lack, He provides in abundance.”
You can help
Calvary Chapel is committed to continue to work with families seeking shelter and support on a daily basis and thanks those who support these evolving efforts. Please continue to pray for all who are affected by the war. If you are interested in going on a mission’s trip to support construction and care efforts, or if you would like to contribute financially towards these efforts, please visit www.Calvaryftl.org/Ukraine for more information.
For more articles by Shelly Pond, visit https://www.goodnewsfl.org/author/shelly/