If you were forced out of your home into another country, would you view it as an obstacle or an opportunity? Would you consider yourself a refugee or a missionary?
Since the war in Ukraine began a year and a half ago, more than 8.2 million people have been displaced into neighboring countries, according to World Vision Inc. Poland alone has received nearly 60% of all refugees from Ukraine.
One of these refugees, Olena*, was resistant to leave Ukraine until her pastor helped her view the experience differently.
“I did not want to leave Ukraine as a refugee,” Olena said. “Other people needed to leave more. But then my pastor challenged me to instead go to Poland as a missionary and help start a church.”
With this goal in mind, Olena gathered a group of 10 other Ukrainian refugees to attend a trauma healing training led by e3 Strategy Coordinators. This is where she met Mike Jorgensen, e3’s Director of Global Migration Initiatives. What really shocked Mike was that a majority of the people who attended the trauma healing training (including Olena) wanted more training … in church planting, evangelism, and discipleship!
“We have been doing that via Zoom every Tuesday morning since October 2022,” Mike said. “We recently asked them to take the next step and help train other Ukrainians, and several attended a Gospel Conversations training we hosted for Ukrainians. It was a joy seeing our Ukrainian friends train so well and so enthusiastically.”
This has become a common theme among Ukrainian refugees, Mike said. Many Ukrainian Christians aren’t viewing themselves as victims but as missionaries sent to Poland and other European countries. In fact, this was the vision of the organizers of the Poland Ukrainian Missions Conference that took place in Warsaw, Poland, earlier this year.
“Through the Ukrainian war, God has granted a unique opportunity for Ukrainians to share the Gospel with Europeans if the Ukrainian refugees can be properly trained and equipped.,” they said. “Reflecting on the last 30 years, the Ukrainian churches played a crucial role in planting many new churches in Russia. By God’s grace they can do it again for all of Europe if we all can work together.”
Mike said the situation reminds him of the book of Acts, when Jesus told His followers to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the end of the earth.
“The first century church was faithful in their Jerusalem, then the persecution of Acts 8:1 hit and they were spread from Jerusalem into Judea and Samaria,” Mike said. “God chose hard times to accelerate the move of His workers into new areas. Could God be accelerating His work using Ukrainians forced into new places by the war to bring the Gospel to new people? Can God use this Ukrainian diaspora to spark revival in Europe?”
We are so encouraged by the way these Ukrainian refugees are viewing themselves as missionaries and seeking out e3 trainings to share the Gospel and plant churches as they go. We can’t wait to see how God will use these displaced believers to spread His Word all over Europe.
*Names have been changed to ensure safety and anonymity.