Serving Ukrainian Refugees of War

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Calvary Chapel Svitlovodsk: Serving Refugees of War

Story by Trinity Grau and Margot Bass
Photos courtesy Benjamin Morrison

Calvary Chapel Svitlovodsk, located in Central Ukraine, continues to actively serve and assist Ukrainian citizens and refugees in the days following the Russian invasion—in their church and in a bomb shelter. Led by Pastor Benjamin Morrison, members are not only feeding and housing refugees but have also celebrated a wedding.

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Residents take refuge in a bomb shelter in Svitlovodsk, Ukraine. Benjamin Morrison, pastor of Calvary Chapel Svitlovodsk, shared that there are frequent sirens and warnings, but also that so far, no bombs have been dropped on the city.

Each night in the Central Ukrainian city of Svitlovodsk, Benjamin Morrison and his family prepare, making sure their clothes and some basic supplies are laid out—not for a trip—but to take to the bomb shelter in their apartment building when the sirens go off.

“Air raid warnings have been frequent. The province has witnessed the shelling of an aerodrome (airport) not too far from us,” shared Benjamin, the pastor of Calvary Chapel Svitlovodsk. His family of four spends time regularly in the bomb shelter with their neighbors. “Thankfully, no bombs [have been] dropped.” 

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People fleeing into the basement of Benjamin’s apartment building—its bomb shelter—play a game to pass the time. While in the shelter, Benjamin uses the opportunity to pray with the residents and refugees, discuss the Bible, and share his faith in Jesus.

The time in the bomb shelter is not wasted for evangelism, though. Benjamin explained, “I regularly lead the neighbors in praying "Our Father" and have gaving some brief, 45-second messages about the importance of receiving God's mercy through Christ, suffering and sin, etc. I trust the Holy Spirit will water the seeds in these conditions.” One of those neighbors was “an old grandpa,” he said. “I had a discussion with him about how the whole Bible points to Christ. He had great questions!”

                  

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Food is joyfully received by those coming to CC Svitlovodsk for refuge.

Feeding and Housing Refugees
Benjamin posted on Wednesday that following the bombing of civilian targets in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, a wave of refugees has been heading toward Svitlovodsk. “Many are getting stranded on the way as they run out of gas. We’re working with people along the route [to] … transport them … here. We are planning to serve them all we can.” The number of refugees grows into the thousands.

The majority of refugees will only stop briefly at CC Svitlovodsk. On a recent night, the church and its members hosted 22 refugees. Benjamin urged, “Pray for us to share the hope of Christ with them in practical love on their way.”

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Children enjoy the food that Benjamin’s wife Lena (standing) is feeding them.

Because of the generosity and hearts of compassion of many around the world, “We've been able to buy enough flour (1.5 tons so far) to make bread for all of the refugees here for the next few days.” They seek to meet other needs as well. “This is only the beginning of the needs that we’ll be facing in the coming days, weeks, and beyond.”

And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:17

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Beds are made up and ready at CC Svitlovodsk for evacuees fleeing from Ukraine’s large cities. Normally, they stay for only a short time before moving on to a border country for safe haven. Members of CC Svitlovodsk also host refugees.

A Joyful Wedding
In a time when many might cower, Benjamin had the honor and joy of presiding over a wedding during the first weekend of the war. “This young couple, Andrey and Nadya, has much in common with the many citizens who are now fleeing to local borders.” They are refugees from capital of Ukraine, Kyiv.

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Benjamin had the honor and joy of presiding over a wedding during the first weekend of the war. “This young couple, Andrey and Nadya, has much in common with the many citizens who are now fleeing to local borders.” They are refugees from capital of Ukraine, Kyiv.

Benjamin said, “Nadya was a member of our church for many years before moving to Kyiv a couple years ago. She and Andrey met and were planning to be married in Kyiv. But the bombing in Kyiv that began on February 24th forced them to head to Svitlovodsk.”

He acknowledged that many may question the appropriateness of a wedding in the middle of a war. Benjamin responded, “But that’s when it makes the most sense. Because, first, what better reminder that even war cannot stamp out love. And second, what better way to say that we serve a higher King and have a deeper joy than to rejoice in the midst of chaos? The light is not afraid of the darkness; it dispels the darkness.”

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Benjamin Morrison and his wife Lena (third and fourth from the left) with refugees and volunteers at the church.

Pressing Forward
Despite the chaos and darkness, Benjamin described the motivation of the pastors and missionaries as they serve: “We are all feeling a lot of exhaustion, but we press forward believing that Christ has put us here for this moment.”

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:58

 

Prayer Requests
Pray that the political will for world leaders to make the bold steps necessary to defeat Russian President Putin quickly. Moreover, pray for God to supernaturally crush this evil and injustice.
Pray for many in these difficult days to find their hope and strength in Christ.
Pray for God’s provision to serve the millions of refugees in neighboring countries as well as the local refugees here in Ukraine.

Donate here to the work of the Morrisons and CC Svitlovodsk.
Donations can also be made through Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia at app.securegive.com

 

                  

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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.

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