LISTEN TO EP.75
Ukraine in Crisis, Part 2: CityServe Reports from the Frontlines
Listen to this special report as CityServe team members share what is happening firsthand at the Ukrainian border and how the body of Christ is rising up to offer hope, help, and security. Hear of the miracles that are taking place as the local church is working to get food, shelter, and supplies to refugees flooding into neighboring countries, and those that are risking their lives to reach behind enemy lines. Amid the horrors of war, your prayers and donations are making a difference in the lives of those in Ukraine and beyond. This episode was done in collaboration with Steve Strang, host of the Strang Report Podcast, on the Charisma Podcast Network.
Welcome to the Influencers Podcast. I’m Scott Young, co-host along with, and we are bringing you a special episode. We’re going to go to Ukraine. We’re going to go together. We’re going to go right to where the region is in desperate, desperate need. We have team members, who are going to be on a journey and we will follow them during this podcast. CityServe is reaching out with every resource the Lord puts in our hands, and we want you to just experience the journey with us. We’re going to hear clips as the team makes their way to Poland, and to the border with Ukraine. You’ll hear the voices of Dave Donaldson and Wendell Vinson, our co-founder. You’ll hear from Karl Hargestam, our Director of CityServe International, Todd Lamphere, our Director of Government Relationships for CityServe – all these wonderful workers, dedicated to compassion, dedicated to seeing passion come through local churches.
We’re working with Pelle Hornmark, who is right there in Europe. We’re going to hear his voice on this journey. As he helps with CityServe Europe, bringing resources together with churches to make a difference in this world. You’re going to be able to hear the full interviews. Click on the links in the notes; we want you to be well informed, both for your time of prayer and the call to action. The church needs to arise in this moment and the church needs to be salt and light. That’s what the Influencers Podcast is all about. Listen, as we follow our team on their journey.
Good is Happening
Well, Jesus said, “I will build my church”, and people like Putin, who get their orders from hell, will not prevail. And we are going there to support the local churches. Those that we have talked to that are worshiping the Lord, praying behind enemy lines, they are in trenches, at the front lines in Poland, Romania, and we’re providing food and emergency supplies. We’re helping them with housing for the refugees that are coming over the border. But also making sure people have prayer and emotional support because we believe that the church is God’s infrastructure for hope, help and security. And we’re mobilizing the American Church and its resources to help our brothers and sisters that are serving on the front lines there. So Karl Hargestam is our International Director. He is from Sweden.
He grew up in Europe, worked for the Pentecostal world in the European Fellowship, speaks several languages, and he is coordinating our efforts with our pastor friends there. He is leaving shortly for Poland. Todd Lamphere, Chief of Staff for Paula White, but also spearheads our Government Relations for CityServe. And Todd is leading a massive of effort to pack 1 million meals and to transport them to the front lines where we will hopefully distribute them this week.
Who We Are
CityServe is a church based organization. We are about equipping resourcing, mobilizing the local church to bring healing to the brokenness in its community. And we do that three ways: One, through robust gifts and kind pipeline. We’re one of the largest recipients of new product from Amazon, Costco, and Home Depot. Last year, we distributed $520 million through the local church. We could eclipse a billion dollars this year. We have churches all across the country that are part of CityServe network and Todd and Karl and with the help of Paula White and Ivanka we mobilized 17 million food boxes during the pandemic in partnership with the White House Office for Economic Recovery and USDA. That was 2300 churches that passed out 17 million boxes. But we were also able to pray for over 20 million people.
I just would say that, that, while this is a tragedy of epic proportion, and the church of Jesus Christ, Steve, is rising up in Europe. This is going to be, I believe, a catalyst for the Church to rise up in a more powerful way, working together in Europe to respond to this need that is before them. The church of Jesus Christ is God’s infrastructure. There’s no other infrastructure like the church. It is the infrastructure for the healing of the nations. It is the infrastructure for hope. And as a church rises up in this moment, I think we’re going to see something really powerful happen. That what seems and is so destructive, God’s going to use this for something very powerful. People are awakening in Europe. Obviously they’re praying, they’re seeking God, and they’re working together. And we have an opportunity as the church here in America to come alongside of them. When all the NGOs leave, when all the organizations leave that do good work, the church will still be there. And this is what the opportunity is to strengthen the church. That’s going to be there. They’re going to be doing this and reaching people long after everyone else is gone.
Testimonies from the Ground
Wow. Those stories are informational and inspirational. There are so many good things happening. This is just the Spirit of God. God is able to come into bad places and turn things together for good. And that’s what really the calling of God is on us.
Wasn’t it interesting. We were talking about the church that is going to rise up and how the church is rising up. As we listen to Him talk, we’re going to find out that this can be the greatest moment for the church. God can call European churches together like never before. We’re going to listen to a series of clips now, and we’re going to focus in on what the church can do. We’re going to hear a story of how in a few days, 1800 volunteers came together and resourced a million meals that made it to this important region. In really just a matter of days, God’s people can make a difference in these hours and you are called to be part of what God is doing. Make sure that you keep connected to the City Serve family. We’re so glad for CityServe’s sponsorship of this Influencer’s Podcast. And we all want to be part of the solution. We pray for Ukraine, but one of our most important prayers is, “God, what can I do to make a difference?” Listen to this next series of clips.
Warsaw, Poland – Life Risking Missions
We’re here in Warsaw, Poland, a population of around 2 million. But right now they have play about 1.2 million refugees that have poured over the border into Poland. Most of which into Warsaw, where we are now sitting. And obviously pastors and ministries are overwhelmed. But in the midst of that, it’s probably one of the greatest opportunities in our lifetime to share the love of Jesus both in word and deed. And if we look a little tired it’s because we’ve been on the border until after nearly midnight last night watching these families, thousands of families, crossing over from Ukraine into Poland, weary, broken, tired children, traumatized – absolute heartbreaker. And I know we’re going to share some stories about that and how City Serve is partnering with these churches in Poland, Ukraine other parts of Europe to really help these families.
But it became crystal clear to me last night that it’s the Church, the Church of Jesus, that is the hope these families; they need more than just food and clothing. They need a church family and most of all, they need Jesus, but they need a church family that they can trust. I mean, young women – well, I have three daughters – pouring over that border. You know, where are they going to go? Where are they going to go to trust except for the church? And here we are. And we are on the brink of a major humanitarian response through the local church.
Absolutely. I think one of the statements you asked was, “How did we get into Poland and how did we all get involved?” The same as the former. When the pandemic hit, that was a disaster, the whole world shut down and the local church, we said at the time, the last mile, “There was nothing like the local neighborhood church, knowing its neighborhood, and able to deliver and serve its community.” Well, this is also true here. In fact, what we say most of the time we help churches live out the daily disaster in people’s lives. But right now, this invasion by Russia, this is a disaster impacting Europe in ways they haven’t seen since 40 years ago, December 91. The world said “peace” and nothing would be happening against us. Somehow Europe is put on notice. Now, the last mile, churches also here in Poland, in Romania, in Ukraine, we have witnessed the last couple of days, the same thing as we did during reform: the family, the local church, just setting up a supply chain from warehouses to church networks, distributing. And they would tell us we would do this with no resources. They’re opening their homes, they’re cooking their food, sharing their clothing, taking them into their homes. This is the local church at its best. The pastors are working day and night. And in all of these countries in Ukraine, pastors are staying behind risking their life to serve the people. That supply chain is what’s distributing these food boxes. So as we’re shipping a million meals, they’re saying, “We need it”. Now, people are hurting in Ukraine, but this is the last mile delivery that no one in the world can come compete with: God’s people, the local church, in every neighborhood.
We pulled the trigger on Tuesday. I mean, this is a miracle to get all the ingredients in from Iowa from Tuesday to Friday, then to pack on Saturday, it was was just God. It was a God-size task, and if God didn’t show up, it wasn’t going to happen. It wasn’t going to get done. And then getting the transportation was another God task. I think that transporting those meals is a minimum of a million dollar ride here into Warsaw and UPS came up in a big way and became a sponsor of us. And of course we had an angel donor that donated the $300,000 for the meals. And God has just sort of been here through all of this. So as we speak, it’s getting ready to be flown from Atlanta, Georgia to Frankfurt, Germany, and then going to be bused from Frankfurt, Germany to Warsaw. And we have a warehouse here. It will be “de- palletized”, if you will, a hundred pallets full 4,800 boxes, 216 meals per box will be sent into Ukraine. And then the Ukrainian churches will come and pick up from an undisclosed location. And then get it to the people in need.
There are 1.2 million refugees are pouring into Poland. This food is going into Ukraine, where we heard today from one of our pastor friends that people are starving there. This is severe. We are making sure that this product goes even beyond enemy lines, where we pastors and churches are ready to make sure that this is going in to the homes of their families. That right now are being cut off by resources. I talked to a woman last night that her neighborhood was bombed. Lights were out, no electricity. She made a decision to carry her child through the darkness of night for three days to the border. That’s what’s happening friends. And that’s why we’re rushing this food from America, our great country, to here in Poland. And as Todd mentioned, we’re getting that into the most severe areas of Ukraine. And that’s phase one, but right now they’re getting flooded with need right here.
So this is just a start. And I believe, that this is what we have been seeing: that the church is not just the church with spiritual activities. When logistics are needed, there are tremendous possibilities. So there are warehouses now – inside Ukraine. So we can go with bigger trucks from Warsaw into Ukraine, to this warehouse, which is like 50 kilometers from the border. From there, there will be smaller vans that churches can take and people are risking their lives.
This morning, we talked with one pastor close to dark, when he showed a picture of one of the vans in the church where the driver had been killed. It was full with bullet holes. So there are people, risking their lives every day. Now in this very moment, risking their lives to transport this food.
So it’s like a charge of people all over the world doing their part. I mean this is great to see. To see the Kingdom of God, which is not only connecting people, but also there are power and strengths. People are working here 24-7; they’re volunteers, they don’t eat, they don’t sleep nearly, and they take off from their jobs. They do whatever they can, so for me, in this time, the Church is shining brighter than ever. That’s my, that’s my understanding of this whole situation. And to help, we need people to pray. I mean one of the leaders overall of Poland told us today, “We need intercession, prayer and fasting, like never before”. There’s just so much at stake. But the other is giving so we can leverage every dollar like we’ve done with these meals. We’re not just providing food.
We were at a train station last night. People are sleeping on the floor: providing black pillows. And every dollar that CityServe international receives we are significantly leveraging it to meet these needs all through the local church, so that there’s adequate follow up with these families. I’m so glad that I am a part of a church that loves God, but doesn’t just love. God loves people and is part of making this life that people live just a better life. This is the time for the church to come together.
Pelle Hornmark is a wonderful leader over in Europe, working with churches. And he is seeing miracles take place. As communities begin to recognize what the churches are doing and see the value, we really should be indispensable in our communities. We really should be indispensable in the world. When there is a crisis, it’s time for the church to come together.
We’re going to hear a story in these next clips from play about a casino, who took a whole floor. They came to the church and said, we want to take our casino and turn it over to the church so that the church could make a difference. Dave Donaldson is going to talk to us about how the Spirit of the Lord brings Liberty and we’re going to join together. We are just better when we work together, let’s make a difference. Listen to these incredible words from the Ukraine region.
I will give Pelle as most of the time here, but let me just, again, put out this idea that we saw, even during a pandemic, the local church, knowing its neighborhoods. What they have done here immediately has taken their churches, normally used on Sundays, and turned them into reprocessing centers for refugees processing. In fact, they’re gathering goods, processing them overnight, and then they’re sending them in homes of believers, apartments, and or if they have a relative somewhere else in Europe. So they’re spreading them across Europe, putting them on trains with train tickets. So they almost become the churches’, like re-processing centers, where they get to take a shower, cook a meal, a couple of nights of rest, and then send them on to a permanent house.
For most of believers, it’s almost like you’re sitting there. You we were in one town, a small church, then the pulpit is turned into a reprocessing-sorting center for goods donated. And then you have those on the floor, who should not sleeping there. That’s the auditorium. Then they’re being washed and trained and they’re being put into homes of believers. Almost like you sense kind of world war. People were fleeing for their life. They’re getting into homes of Christian believers who are just saying, “Come and stay with us”. Unbelievably powerful when you’re sitting there. It’s emotional I think when you see the response. They really share all they have, and say, “How can we serve this people?” I think you could say that all churches are involved. There are mainly like maybe four or five countries that are involved in this. When it comes to our churches, we have like 60 denominations all over Europe.
But the strongest impact today is from Romania where they’re working. The good thing with Romania is that it is still quite easy from Romania to come into Ukraine with food. So we are buying food. We are packing trucks and we are driving through the border. There are receiving centers at the borders. There are even tents, which is raised up in inside Ukraine where they are receiving. Because what happens when people are fleeing is they are seeing like 700 cars standing, waiting at the border. It takes time for people to come. And yesterday we could see there are streams of thousands of people standing, waiting, doing something on the line. So there is something which is like an emergency situation. When we are at the border, we can see that that many organizations were clever in this, because I can see at the same time, as there are so much of this horror and evil, at the same time, you can see so many good things of humanity.
For example, yesterday, there was one guy sitting, playing piano that he brought from Italy. He brought his piano from Italy to the border between Ukraine and Poland, sitting and playing, to try to do what he could do, so that people would feel a bit better. So I believe people are doing great. The big difference that I see with the church is that they are not only providing food. They are not only providing shelter, but they are also providing community. They will come into homes. They will not go to some center. We went yesterday to a shopping center, which they have changed to be full of beds everywhere. But, of course, there is no fellowship. There is no community there. They are there by themselves with all their stories. What the church provides are homes with warmness. It’s a place at the kitchen’s table and I’m so impressed.
And all churches I have met, they didn’t start this because they got some money from abroad. They started to move out the chairs from the sanctuary, trying to put out some blankets. They did what they could with their own means. The day before yesterday, we were in a city called Luplin, which is close to the border. When we were standing there, a boy came, he was around 12 years old. He came with his toys under his arms because he wanted to carry them down to give it to the people, to the children who are living there at the center, who are living in that church. So I feel, that they’re not doing this because there is money. They are not doing this because someone else is doing something. That’s why I believe, it’s so good us and for CityServe to be involved in this – because they are not running into something where people will not do anything unless they get something. But when we give them something, we will help them, to empower the church, to make them strong. And to mean something.
For example, Luplin, a small church, maybe like a 150 members renting a facility, small place yesterday. We could see that the casino in the city moved out from a whole floor in an office building. And they said to this small church, “If you want, take the whole casino”, and it became a shelter for people.
It makes sense. It’s a power for the church. There is something that happens when we’re doing what Jesus called us to do. It means that we get meaning in our society. So I love this, and that is why I have been involved in that because I’m quite busy doing my work in different ways. When I have this idea that we will empower the local church, we work through the local church means that after three, four months, all those organizations: Save the Children, Red Cross, all of them – they will be gone to the next emergency situation, but the church will stay there. So we are so thankful. Romania, Moldavia, Hungary, Poland, Lithuania, all those places. They’re just ready to serve their people. It’s amazing.
Today when we went to one warehouse to see what they’re doing, there’s people that we have never met. They’re just strangers to us, but when we were going there, it’s like we were family. We’re going there, hugging each other, pushing each other, making jokes, having a fun day. This is the Kingdom of God. For me, there is no preparation. We are just on the spot in one time working together. This is great.
We always quote what Jesus said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it”. Like that’s future tense. What is future tense? But he has already been building his church. And we’re seeing that the gates a hell cannot prevail.
Ukraine and Russia
Now one interesting thing maybe is the relation between Ukraine and Russia. We were mentioning that before that the situation is like that many of the churches in Russia are led by Ukrainian pastors, the Ukrainian movement, the Pentecostal movement. First of all, they have been very strong, very pioneer and churches everywhere, especially in Russia.
So today I could say there are tensions, but it’s not tensions. I believe my understanding is that the Ukrainian churches, they are praying for the Russian people, which they are feeling is under oppression. My understanding is that Russian churches are praying for Ukrainian people. My understanding is that even if nationalism is reflected, my feeling is that still the Kingdom of God is stronger. The national state, that’s my understanding, that it still works. People are understanding and there are aggressions, and there are many things, but still there is a kind of a Kingdom mindset. Where people understand that we are not finding against flesh and blood. This is something else. This is demonic powers pushing these evil things.
I would say this: everyone do something, whatever they can. Prayer – it should never be underestimated. But prayer that is positive and powerful will always lead to action. I would go to https://cityserve.us/ . Quite frankly, that is a resource that is one that we have committed ourselves to – to connect with and to partner with. But everyone giving something: a prayer that is meaningful will always move to action. And for pastors, what I would say is there are resources out there for you to connect with the people of Ukraine. Open up your eyes, do a little bit of study, open up your heart. And you’ll be able to find needs that you can meet. They’re all around you. Ukrainian people are all around you in your neighborhoods and your communities. And if after doing that, you can’t find anyone, go to https://cityserve.us/ , and they will they will direct you to the next steps, a trusted source.
I want to thank you for listening to these incredible stories in the journey that our team has been on and listening to this special report of the Influencers Podcast. I’m Scott Young. And I just want you to do everything you can to make a difference. The Bible says that “God so loved the world”. He loves all the world, that “He is not willing that any should perish”. Every soul matters to God. And every soul should matter to us. We want to do everything we can to help people, spirits, physically, emotionally in any way we can to help feed them and tell them about the love of God. I want us all to become influencers in our neighborhoods, and this is the time for us to reach the nations. I’m Scott Young. This is the Influencers Podcast.
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