Sharing Jesus in Wartime

Just days after Russia invaded Ukraine, Konstantin Reznik, missions pastor at Bethany Slavic Church (BSC) in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, wanted to find a way to help Ukrainian refugees.

BSC is a small congregation comprised mostly of first-generation immigrants from such Slavic countries as Belarus, Russia, Moldova, Armenia and Ukraine. The church had been doing missions work in Ukraine for decades.

“When the war started, all of us who are from Ukraine felt shocked as we watched the attack unfold on the news,” says Reznik, who had fled Ukraine with his parents when the country was part of the former Soviet Union. The family arrived in the United States in 1995.

Reznik called church contacts in Ukraine, asking how BSC could help. After consulting with their Ukrainian counterparts, the church began raising money. At first, they intended to raise $50,000 to pay for housing in Poland for refugees. In a week, however, they had reached that goal and realized they could expand their vision.

They ended up collecting more than $1 million, with help from the local community, to pay for food and care packages, too. Meanwhile, volunteers from the Ukrainian churches used the donations to buy food, assemble care packages and deliver them to people in some of Ukraine’s most war-torn regions. 

“It’s very risky what they’re doing, but it’s not something we ask them to do. It’s something they want to do,” Reznik says, adding that besides food and care packages, the volunteers are also delivering the gospel. 

“They’re evangelism-minded churches. So when they’re distributing food, they’re sharing the gospel at the same time,” he says. 

As a result, a few refugees have relocated to Ephrata and joined BSC. Reznik says many are not believers, but they are seeking community.

 “We feel it’s an amazing opportunity for the gospel,” says Reznik.

Gail Allyn Short
Gail Allyn Short

Gail Allyn Short is freelance writer in Birmingham, Alabama. She leads a nursing home ministry and teaches a Bible study class for new believers at Integrity Bible Church.