Calvary Chapel Missionaries Assist Ukrainian Refugees

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Hope in a Crisis: Calvary Chapel Missionaries Assisting Refugees in Western Ukraine

Story by Joel Brown and Margot Bass
Photos courtesy of Calvary Living Water in Mukachevo

In far Western Ukraine, God is using His believers to turn a time of crisis into opportunities for hope. A Calvary Chapel in Western Ukraine, Calvary Living Water in Mukachevo, is helping refugees fleeing from that country following the Russian invasion last week. It is soon opening its own doors as a refuge center.

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Volunteers in Mukachevo, Ukraine, help to set up mattresses in a room for refugees fleeing the Russian invasion. This is one of the buildings that Calvary Living Water in Mukachevo is preparing for the influx, working with another church in that city. This week, Calvary Living Water will also open its church doors as a refuge center.

“Where we are is arguably the safest place in Ukraine. We are as far west as possible, almost a peninsula, surrounded by four European Union countries,” acknowledged Calvary Living Water Pastor Joel Brown.

“At this point we are seeing more than 7,000 refugees coming into our city every day. Most stay one night, maybe two, before going to attempt crossing the border,” Joel said. “Border lines have stretched for miles and the wait times have been up to two days at some locations. Even crossing the border by foot is a five-hour ordeal—faster, yes—but you have to be dropped off at the end of the car lines and walk the miles on foot.”

Mukachevo, as in the rest of Ukraine, is facing shortages. “Jesus did say: give us our ‘DAILY’ bread,” Joel noted. Fuel is a precious commodity and is limited to 20 liters. “We still have fuel, compared to other places. Cash is even harder to come by—in some cities there is just no money in the ATMs. Ours have money but severely limit the withdrawal to what amounts to a day or two of survival.”

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A sleeping room has been set up for refugees in Mukachevo. Calvary Living Water Pastor Joel Brown explained, “We want to glorify God in all we do, even in this hour. We want to be the light of the world. We are living by Isaiah 26:3: ‘You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.’”

Yet, he shared, “This seeming bleakness is revealed to be a time of joy. We have fuel, food, and power. We have six families at our home, and we see grieving parents, the shell-shocked, and those in denial ... but I see a home with 12 kids playing and having fun together. I see prayer and comfort; I see people speaking Scripture and truth. I see the whole church coming together to do MORE.”

“Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14b

Calvary Living Water is becoming a refuge center on Tuesday. “It will house 30-40 (depending on need) for up to three days, after which they would move on towards the border or we find a more long-term solution. We have families housed all over the city in the homes of our church members. We have people doing border runs.”


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Calvary Living Water is partnering closely with another church; and between their two buildings and host homes they can house over 200 people.

“Because of generous donations our church now has a unique role. As cards are working for purchase, we are buying everything with a card. But not just for us—for multiple churches. And we are sending people to volunteer to help other organizations. So we are buying food for several churches/organizations as well as food that is being taken back east for refugees still stuck.” That includes toiletries and washers and dryers for four different locations housing refugees, sets of sheets, rice cookers, and other kitchen supplies. They are also building showers in multiple buildings. “People need to be clean. They need clean beds. They need hot food. They need to feel safe. That is what we are trying to provide,” Joel declared.

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Church in the middle of a war. Families come to worship at Calvary Living Water even as Ukraine is in great peril.

Joel confirmed that his main focus is still being a pastor. “I would have thought that my first job was to be in the thick of it with the refugees and, to be sure, the ones in my home get my full attention. But my main role is to continue to pastor my flock, albeit I now must push through their shock and grief and do it more fiercely. [I’m] helping them make decisions they can't or are afraid of and speaking into their trauma with God's great love.”

Joel added, “We want to glorify God in all we do, even in this hour. We want to be the light of the world. We are living by Isaiah 26:3: ‘You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.’”


Joel and his families are missionaries affiliated with Calvary Chapel Living Water in Garden Grove, CA. Click here to give to this work.

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Pastor Joel and Katya Brown are missionaries affiliated with Calvary Chapel Living Water in Garden Grove, CA.


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All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

© 2022 Calvary Chapel Magazine (CCM). All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.