Doing good in the middle of a war
One hundred and forty-one days into the Russian attack on Ukraine, the solidarity of the New Apostolic congregations in Europe is still huge. Private individuals, congregations, and aid organisations are doing their best to help.
Many things are in short supply in Ukraine right now. Hygiene products, baby food, batteries, mobile phones, blankets, sleeping bags, wound care supplies. Everything is urgently needed right now.
Two thousand kilometres and still on time for service
That is why members from the congregations of Freiburg, Gaggenau, Gernsbach, and Bad-Herrenalb-Loffenau (Germany) acquired the urgently needed supplies, sorted them by category, and packed them into labelled boxes. These were then loaded into two vans and driven to the Slovakian border by some young people, where the goods were picked up.
The young people left on Friday evening and took turns driving the 2,000 kilometres to the Slovakian border. It took them 16 hours to get there. They drove back almost immediately, and just made it back for church in Freiburg on Sunday morning.
When Patrick Kneisel and his wife from the Offenbach district in Germany heard about the attack on Ukraine back in February, they were shocked—and wanted to help. They began to collected all kinds of items and supplies and planned to take them to the border in a van. They informed friends, sports clubs, and other congregations in the district of their plans and before long there was a big pile of donations. People donated so much that the Kneisel’s home was soon full of boxes. The couple spent every spare minute packing, sorting, and labelling. Before long it was clear that a single van would not do. Patrick Kneisel contacted a haulage company that agreed to truck the relief supplies to Poland, which shares a border with Ukraine. Patrick drove to Poland himself to help with the unloading there and to get a picture of the situation. It made him humble and so grateful that so many had offered their help.
Peace doves for a good cause
For weeks now, children of the congregation in Würzburg (Germany) have been preoccupied with the war in Ukraine. They know people who have had to flee their homeland because of the war.
On the one hand, the Sunday School teachers wanted to help the children cope with the subject, on the other hand, they wanted to help the Ukrainian refugees by handcrafting doves with the children and selling them and giving the proceeds to the refugees. So the children, their teachers, and some of the parents met on a Saturday in April in the church to paint stones and make flowers and peace doves. The next day, the children invited the congregation to the church for tea and cake and asked for donations for their handicrafts. The proceeds were donated to an emergency relief project for Ukraine run by SOS Children’s Villages.
Providing a home
Immediately after the war began in Ukraine, the first people fled to Moldova to seek shelter. The New Apostolic Church in the country was ready to help. Churches were opened to accommodate fleeing Ukrainians and Church members organised even more shelters or took people into their own homes.
New Apostolic Christians in these two countries are cared for by the New Apostolic Church Switzerland, whose aid organisations NAK Diakonia and NAK Humanitas are helping financially and with logistical know-how. For example, they give New Apostolic families in Romania and Moldova money who are helping people from Ukraine, and are funding aid projects of organisations that are directly involved in helping refugees on the ground.
The language of love
Love connects no matter what language is spoken. This was clearly felt by members of the congregation of Messkirch (Germany) on 19 June. For some time now, brothers and sisters who had had to flee Mariupol (Ukraine) because of the war have been attending divine services in Messkirch. Little Yelyzaveta should have been baptised in Mariupol already, but this had not been possible because of the war in Ukraine. But celebrating the baptism in Messkirch when none of the family really understands German and none of the ministers understand Ukrainian? Well, the solution came in the person of District Elder Pavel Bich, who had also fled Ukraine and now lives near Messkirch. Since he speaks Ukrainian and German, District Apostle Michael Ehrich asked him to conduct the service in two languages and baptise the little girl. So Yelyzaveta was carried to the altar by her mother and her grandfather—her father is still in Ukraine and has to help the war effort. The prayers of the whole congregation accompanied her and her family.