Calvary Chapel Believers Minister Amidst War

Blank Article Template
Blank Article Template

Share This

Calvary Chapel Believers Minister Amidst War

Calvary pastors, missionaries, and other believers are banding together to help evacuate thousands to safety amidst bombings and violence

Story by Christmas Beeler

More than half a dozen Calvary Chapel pastors and leaders in Ukraine are working together to evacuate those fleeing from the Russo-Ukrainian War since Moscow invaded on February 24. More than 1 million refugees have fled the bombing to neighboring countries—more than 500,000 to Poland alone, as well as Hungary, Slovakia, and Romania. Several hundred civilians have been injured.

Template photo

Jed Gourley (left), pastor of Calvary Chapel Tbilisi, Georgia, with his family. His wife Renee is in the center, surrounded by their four children. Jed and Renee were active in planting Calvary Chapels in Ukraine for many years. “What’s so special about Ukraine is the unity among the churches there,” he said. That unity has allowed the churches to work together to help the refugees fleeing after the Russian invasion. Photo Jed Gourley

United in Purpose
Pastor Jed Gourley, who worked alongside the Markey family for 14 years to plant Calvary Chapel churches in Ukraine, sees the Lord’s hand evident among His people in the 20-plus Calvary churches in Ukraine. “What’s so special about Ukraine is the unity among the churches there,” said Jed, who went on to plant churches in central Asia and the country of Georgia, bordering Russia. Thankfully, before the current crisis, the Calvary Chapels in Ukraine were always close-knit, he noted, often coming together for “pastors’ meetings and national conferences.” Those close connections helped save lives after the war broke out, as pastors and leaders began contacting each other, helping to funnel refugees from the war-torn areas to the border and into other countries.

Walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1b-3

“The church is still united, contacting each other. One church receives the refugees and transports them to another church in the west. Then that church helps get these people across the border. They are all in connection and really working together,” he said. He and other pastors outside of Ukraine are doing what they can. “Today I was helping a lady who wants to evacuate her mother from Kyiv, trying to figure out transportation and get her to safety.”

Several Calvary Chapel pastors from the United States are also making their way to Eastern Europe to minister to refugees in neighboring countries; other CC pastors from the U.S. and Europe are helping bring supplies into Ukraine.

Fleeing the War
Transportation is a key problem, with millions more trying to get out safely amidst the ongoing bombing, with numerous roads and bridges destroyed. Those in major cities that have been severely hit are trying to get to smaller cities for refuge—with some of them headed for the border to escape the country. “People are trying to figure out when [it is safe] to leave their apartments, trapped in bomb shelters, or basements.” Jed read reports that opportunists are charging people “up to $10,000 per person to take them to the border” and that human traffickers are also taking advantage of the vulnerable—especially women and children.

“The Ukrainian government is not keeping people from leaving—except for men between the ages of 18 and 50 who can fight,” he explained. Bombing has occurred throughout the whole country. Russian forces and violence in the north, east, and south have cut off those areas for evacuation, but people are still able to cross the western border. “There are trains running … all the time, but they are full of people.”

                  

( Bridge for Life 2022 is a 2-day conference focused on equipping the church to play an active role in the fight against abortion. Discover how your church can be a Bridge for Life and learn how to launch a mobile ultrasound ministry in your community. CBILettersLogoHorizontalWhite
                  

Courage and Faith
“Overall, the [Calvary] churches are lifting up each other’s hands and taking care of each other. They are going through this together,” Pastor Jed reflected. “I’ve seen pictures: Weddings have taken place,” Jed said, “people gathered in basements praying together. When the sirens go off, they go downstairs and keep praying until it’s time to come out. Some are very encouraged—they are hearing stories of the battles and seeing that the Lord’s hand is with them, and they are strong. Others are fearful, saying it’s hard even to pray right now.” By and large, believers are rallying together, standing in faith.

In fact, several Calvary Chapels throughout Ukraine have become havens for refugees. “Some of them are housing people in this time of crisis—even buying washing machines, cooking supplies, and mattresses.” Jed and other CC leaders started the Ukrainian Refugee Fund with Shepherd's Staff “to collect donations to send to pastors and churches there so they can buy medical supplies and things needed for refugee ministry.”

Speaking of the Ukrainian people in general, Jed said, “Reading the reports on social media, many people are amazed at the Ukrainians’ bravery. Nobody ever expected them to stand this long against the Russian army. They have been very heroic.”

Template photo

Calvary Chapel pastors in Ukraine, and now from other parts of Europe and even the U.S., are coming to Ukraine to help refugees. In this photo, after a week of war in Ukraine—death, missile strikes, sleeping in basements and constant fear, a couple says good-bye before she boards on a train bound for Lviv at the Kyiv station on Thursday, March 3. Ukrainian men have to stay to fight in the war while women and children are leaving the country to seek refuge in a neighboring country. AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti

Compassion and Ministry
Of the believers in Ukraine, Jed admires their “strength during trials, during a time of storm; their reliance upon one another. … They have lived through suffering, times of famine, war. There is a real bonding, a uniting there. … It’s times like these when you find out what matters most. Instead of sharing opinions, we need to share love, support, and prayer. We need to be a shoulder to cry on, with compassion and empathy. It’s been wonderful—all of the support and the teams that have come, all the ministry that has taken place and [is in the works].”

Pam Markey, who oversees the Calvary Chapel Bible College Eurasia in Tbilisi, Georgia, and was a Calvary pioneer alongside her husband, the late Pastor George Markey, Sr., has been reaching out to her friends in Ukraine. "I called a dear friend in Kyiv ... a part of one of the latest church plants going on. ... She said, 'The main thing is, we're not to panic. We're just living our lives. The Lord's going to take care of us.' ... That attitude of really trusting the Lord and knowing that this is where I'm supposed to be."

Pam explained that many people in Ukraine are making different decisions about whether to try to evacuate amidst the bombings. "I think our job is to support and pray that the Lord will grant wisdom to each individual and to be receptive of whatever that is, because the Lord has His plans for each person."

She added, “Now is the time for the church to shine—to do what it does, serving with the gifts God gives us.”

Keeping a kingdom mindset is key. Jed added, “We need to always remember what we’re living for and Who we are living for—the Lord Jesus Christ. …We are all just passing through this world. If we put our roots down deep in this world, then we don’t realize how it’s affecting our hearts.”

As a pastor, he said, “I believe the Lord’s heart for the Ukrainian people is for them to draw near to Him, to rely on Him, to trust Him—even when they are going through the valley of the shadow of death, that they would fear no evil because they trust in Him, the Good Shepherd.”

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; for You are with me …
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
…And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Psalm 23:4-6

Template photo

With so many international people in Jed’s multinational church, it is difficult to find anyone whose life has not been affected by the tragedy of this war. People from Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, and many other countries gathered to pray after last Sunday's service. “Our hearts cry out to God on behalf of these people who are suffering and dying,” Jed shared. Photo Jed Gourley

Prayer Requests
“We know that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4),” said Jed. Some prayer points from Pastor Jed:

Pray for CC believers who are serving refugees in Hungary.
Pray for the teams that are already in Ukraine and those that will be going there soon to minister, bring aid, and help evacuate refugees.
Please pray for divine intervention to stop this continuing and devastating war.
Pray for those who have experienced trauma and loss of loved ones. We know that God is the great healer and the One who can meet the deepest of needs. May the Lord provide for them materially, emotionally, and spiritually during this tragic time.
Pray for those who are fleeing violence—for safe travel, places to stay, food and necessary supplies. Please pray for those churches who are caring for refugees in Ukraine and surrounding countries.
Pray for the salvation of soldiers on both sides of the fighting.
Pray for wisdom for world leaders as they seek peace, and for God’s mercy to triumph over the senseless death and destruction.

 

Donations to God’s Work
Those who wish to support the work financially can donate to the Ukrainian Refugee Fund with Shepherd's Staff by sending a tax-deductible contribution. Donate here. Donations can also be made through Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia at app.securegive.com

                  

(Click here to read more about and to register for the Bridge for Life conference)

Template photo


                  

 

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.