Romanian Baptists and International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries are responding to the influx of refugees from Ukraine into Romania.
Pastor C. is one of many Romanian believers who are taking Ukrainian families into their homes when they first cross the border, IMB reported. Churches in this part of Romania are not large, and though some churches are using their buildings as shelters, many families have also opened their homes to welcome Ukrainians for the night.
The process takes patience and intentionality. Only registered officials can go all the way to the border crossing. Two men from churches near Suceava have permission to enter the area, where they wait in the freezing weather to greet families and direct them to believers who wait down the road.
“Romania is considered the second destination of choice for those fleeing Ukraine,” Scottie Stice told the Southern Baptist TEXAN. Stice is the director of Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) Disaster Relief (DR).
SBTC DR volunteers were among those on the ground in Poland March 4-14 to assist in the refugee crisis and plan for the Southern Baptist response going forward, the TEXAN reported. Under the coordination of Send Relief, SBTC DR’s role will shift from Poland to Moldova and Romania, Stice said.
IMB missionary Mick Stockwell is among those assisting refugees in Romania, where Southern Baptists have had a presence for more than 100 years.
“We’re talking to some Christians who are here greeting these refugees as they come across the border,” Stockwell said in a video for IMB. The volunteers help them find food and water and then “try to help them find where they’re going from here, how they can get to those places, how we can minister to them.”
Stockwell said the IMB is organizing now to field teams from the U.S. to come serve refugees.
On March 21, leaders from SBTC, Missouri Baptist and California Baptist disaster relief will travel to Romania to assess the needs and begin to plan the response.
“They will be fact-finding and setting up support for Romanian churches helping refugees,” Stice told the TEXAN. The Romanian border outreach will provide refreshments and charging stations and otherwise assist the refugees as they prepare to move to their next destinations.
In another video, IMB President Paul Chitwood talks with Kyle, an IMB missionary in Ukraine. Kyle and his family, who have served in Ukraine 13 years, were forced to evacuate their home due to the conflict.
“We’re hearing news reports every day of millions being displaced by the war in Ukraine,” Chitwood said in the video. “When we hear about displaced peoples, we often don’t think about our missionaries.”
The situation has been “very tough,” Kyle said. “We had a very short window of time. We had one suitcase per person. We packed our van, and we had to leave.
“We’re overwhelmed at times, but at the same time, we’re also trying to serve, and carry on the missionary task to reach people and make disciples.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled from International Mission Board and Southern Baptist TEXAN reports.)