Traveller reports stories of generosity for World Evangelical Alliance
Canadian Brian Stiller spent Easter week in Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania meeting pastors and church volunteers who work with Ukrainian refugees.
According to the UN High Commission for Refugees, the invasion of Ukraine has forced 6.6 million people to flee their home country.
Stiller, a global ambassador for the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), made the Easter trip to oversee the dispersal of Canadian donations alongside Kyiv-based WEA discipleship leader Ruslan Maliuta.
Canadian Christians had by then already contributed about US$1.2 million to a new WEA fund called The Response-Ukraine Special Taskforce (TRUST), dispersed directly to a group of 20 Christian denominations and organizations. About 60 per cent of those funds went to partners inside Ukraine and 40 per cent to partners in surrounding countries. [Update: Read a June 24 report from TRUST]
Stiller is moved by both local efforts and Canadian contributions. European “Christian sisters and brothers are acting in our place loving the stranger,” he writes on his Dispatches website. “Our part in this action plan is to help them with our resources.”
Another Dispatches entry recalls how timely these donations have been. “It didn’t take long for supplies to run out,” he recounts. “And just when money was needed to replenish supplies, Christians in Canada asked me, ‘Here is some money, can you make sure it goes to those in need?’ Their generosity was instant and without request. They were moved by the desperate need, and their faith and concern launched” the special WEA fund.
Stiller is confident this money is going to the right hands, impressed by the pastors and volunteers he met on the tour who have translated Canadian financial contributions into concrete actions of welcome and hospitality.
“They dropped their schedule,” he explains. “They made available buildings and resources” (Europeans are also donating to TRUST, as are Asians and others). Amid the wide range of circumstances, “the common denominator [was] a reflex of love that [engaged] people at the very critical moment of need and [found] a way to solve the problem.”
He found a telling example of this creative problem-solving at Holy Trinity Baptist Church in Bucharest, Romania. Volunteers there are required to accurately record the numbers and identities of the thousands of refugees who have passed through their doors, along with the practical work of feeding and sheltering them. That record-keeping task was daunting, until a team of IT experts built, tested and applied a smartphone app in record time – a matter of days – enabling the church to focus their resources and time to helping refugees directly.
This speed and creativity was common among the pastors and volunteers Stiller encountered, a flexibility that parallels the instant generosity he found in Canadian donors. “There was no wondering about ‘Can we do it?,’” he says of those he met on the tour. “It was just, ‘People are in need. Christ is at the heart of who we are. What would he have us do?’ And they did it.”
Matthew Neugebauer is a summer intern at Faith Today. Photo of refugee family in Budapest by Brian Stiller from DispatchesFromBrian.com.