Charity in deed!
Individuals, congregations, and charities… The solidarity with Ukraine is huge also among New Apostolic Christians. Already a few days after the war broke out, people were at the border to help.
Since the Russian attack on Ukraine on 24 February 2022, people all over Europe are showing their solidarity. People who are fleeing the war are being welcomed and looked after, and many private initiatives are collecting relief supplies and bringing them to the Ukrainian border.
More than preaching
“We are leaving tonight. Solidarity and charity,” Enrico Schülbe posted on Facebook four days after the war began. The truck driver, who also has a bus driver’s licence, was on the road from 1 to 3 March. Why would anyone postpone an already planned holiday to take a seat behind the wheel of a bus and drive into a war zone? “Charity, and besides I’m a Priest in the congregation of Bad Bevensen and preach the most beautiful things at the altar,” Enrico explains. “I didn’t just want to preach, but actually do something.”
Together with a car dealership in Uelzen (Germany), a bus company from Lüchow had launched an appeal for donations. For Enrico, who is from the area, it was clear: “I have to help.” On Tuesday, two busses and four drivers set off in the direction of Ukraine. In Poland, which shares a border with Ukraine, they unloaded the aid and took fleeing Ukrainians on board and brought them back to Germany. Enrico was moved about what he experienced there and posted on Facebook: “We should be glad and grateful that we can in peace at home.”
Hours later, when they reached Dresden in Germany, the four bus drivers were glad to be relieved by other drivers who took the Ukrainian refugees on to Berlin and Hamburg. “I’m beat now, but happy that everything worked out so well,” Enrico posted.
Private aid corridor
Already a day after the Russian attack on Ukraine, Elena Kloppmann from the congregation of Freiburg in southern Germany, together with a friend, packed her car full with medical supplies and drove to Vyšné Nemecké on the Slovakia-Ukraine border. They set up a warehouse close to the border and connected with local people to help them find like-minded people on the Ukrainian side. The Ukrainians also set up a warehouse on their side of the border, from where the aid is distributed in Ukraine. On the Slovakian side, the two women also approached individuals bringing private donations and provided them with the necessary logistics to get the donations to where they were needed most.
The two women organised this private aid corridor to the Ukraine by themselves and are in constant contact with people in Ukraine to find out what is needed most. On the website Elena recently launched, she constantly updates the needs lists and mobilises volunteers. She is impressed by the wave of solidarity: “It is absolutely amazing to be collaborating with people we have never met before simply on a basis of mutual trust—and to see it works.”
Bringing sleeping bags to church
For the midweek service on 2 March, the members of the congregation Eschelbronn in Germany not only brought their hymnals, but also sleeping bags, sleeping mats, sterile bandages, gauze dressings, disinfectants, hygiene products, non-perishable food, dried fruit, canned food, baby food, and diapers. The Catholic church in Weibstadt had issued an appeal for emergency aid for Ukraine. Some New Apostolic brothers and sisters brought the collected relief supplies to the Catholic church in Epfenbach and helped with sorting and loading so that the aid would get to Ukraine as quickly as possible.
The church becomes a haven
Churches, various associations, and private individuals joined forces in Merseburg (Germany) after the outbreak of the war to open and prepare the city for people from Ukraine. The head of the co-ordinating committee is Sebastian Müller-Bahr, an advisor to the mayor of the city of Merseburg and a New Apostolic Priest.
It felt like all of Merseburg was on its feet when the news of the invasion of Ukraine reached us. “We pooled all our resources,” Sebastian says. When he learned that the city was to take in 102 displaced people from Ukraine, he and his team organised accommodation, drivers, interpreters, and doctors. Since there was no central transit centre, the New Apostolic Church building was converted into one without further ado. In the entrance area, volunteers registered the arrivals, tested them for Covid, and provided food. The sacristy was turned into a doctor’s office, while the adjoining rooms became a diaper-changing room, and a play and rest area. The large church hall was turned into a dining hall. Here, sad stories could be heard from the fleeing people, but also gratitude that they had a safe place to stay for now. Sebastian is happy and grateful: “No matter where we come from, no matter what we are, we work together. That really amazes me.”
Aid organisations respond
In addition to the tireless efforts of congregations and private individuals, the New Apostolic aid organisations are also responding to the Ukrainian crisis.
“Members of the New Apostolic Church in Moldova and Romania have already welcomed refugees into their homes,” the website of the New Apostolic Church Switzerland reports. The local New Apostolic Church, together with the two foundations NAK-Diakonia and NAK-Humanitas, is supporting the local members as well as projects and initiatives that provide direct emergency aid for displaced Ukrainians.
The German aid organisation human aktiv is planning aid measures, as is the relief organisation NAK-karitativ, which is in contact with a partner organisation to ascertain the concrete need of the people in order to be able to provide concrete help.