LISTEN TO EP.80
Ukraine in Crisis, Part 3: CityServe Reports on Amazing Miracles Taking Place Amidst Russia-Ukraine War
As refugees continue to seek safety from war-torn Ukraine, hear how the ongoing work of the local church continues to bring hope and support to those in need. Co-hosts Dave Donaldson and Scott Young are joined by Todd Lamphere, vice president of Government Relations as they discuss the miracles taking place and reveal the four-fold strategy of CityServe to help build church capacity, expand the supply pipeline, establish a transportation network, and provide grants to local partners to do compassion ministry. Listen as they share a series of miracles that took place, revealing God’s great compassion and how he desires to work through His people. Discover today how you can be a part of the work and support those that are on the frontlines of this crisis.
Welcome to the Influencers Podcast. I’m Scott Young with co-host Dave Donaldson and special guest today, Todd Lamphere. We are going to talk today about one of the most important and neediest areas on the planet today. And we’re going to ask the question, “What we can do to make a difference, knowing that we are here to shine brightly and to bring change?”
An Encouraging Opportunity Hidden Among Chaos
The United Nations tells us that presently over 4 million refugees have fled Ukraine. Inside the country, 6.5 million people have been displaced from their homes. That’s 10 million plus people that are living away from where they would like to be living. Hundreds of thousands of people are without access to water. The refugees that have fled are 90% women and children in the wake of this tragedy. There is a great opportunity for the churches of Ukraine, Poland, Romania, to reach Ukrainian refugees with the love of God, in the message of Jesus.
In fact, this is a time for us all to reach out and do what we can. CityServe Europe has a fourfold strategy for sharing the Good News of Jesus with the Ukrainian people, both in their words, in the words that we give to them, and in the actions we take. Here are the strategies that we are implementing: we are building church capacity, and we are looking to help churches in Ukraine, Poland, and Romania become centers of compassion for the refugee crisis that is currently upon us. Our primary focus is to help churches in Poland, in the city of Lublin, which is very, very close to the border. We are helping churches set up a refugee center.
News from Poland
Dave Donaldson. You’ve already been there. You and Todd have been there. And we’re going to hear some firsthand stories. Dave, tell us what’s going on in this in this center in Poland?
Well, Todd and I, and Wendell Vinson and others, we showed up at this church. The pastor and his wife, they’ve been serving around the clock literally hundreds of refugees – overflowing. And they asked us really as a project to expand their capacity from 50 families to 250 families, which we are doing right now. And as you said, that’s a strategy we’ve got to strengthen – expand these churches in Poland, Romania, Moldova, and to make sure that they become refugee safe houses so that when people do come over the border, we can safely and quickly transport them to churches where they can be cared for. But also that they can be protected from these predators that we discovered are all around these border crossings.
Thanks, Dave, our first initiative, of course, is building church capacity. But the second strategy we’re implementing is expanding the supply pipeline. We want to move food and emergency supplies from our warehouses in Ukraine, Poland, and Romania. CityServe Europe and its church partners have already distributed over a million meals in Ukraine through local churches. And that includes food being distributed behind enemy lines. CityServe International is now working to secure even more meals to help our Polish partners. And I know Todd Lamphere has been very involved in getting these meals over there and just tell us what’s going on in Ukraine, the people that we are helping.
Miracle After Miracle
Scott we were able to distribute over a million pre-packed meals, all of which went to the Eastern side of Ukraine into places like Kyiv, the capital, Kharkiv, Odesa, Sumy which is on the Russian border. And those meals were packed in Orlando, Florida area and then shipped to Germany and then onto our warehouse in Warsaw and then through our vast network of churches. They’re taking these meals behind enemy lines in distributing to the people that are in the deepest of needs.
It really was quite a miracle – on the way those meals even got packed. The time that you had, and the way you pulled that together. Just talk about the effort that people are putting into helping get these meals over there.
On a Sunday, Pastor Paula White and myself were talking about what we are going to do. And I said, “I’d like to pack a million meals”, but, “When do you want to do it?” “I’d like to do it this upcoming Saturday”. And she said, “Let’s see if we can pull the trigger here”. And we worked with No Child Hungry, a great meal packing ministry in Apopka, Florida. And he said well, “We’ve have to pull the trigger on Tuesday morning if we’re going to get the the ingredients for a million meals”. Ivanka Trump calls on Monday and asked Pastor Paula, “What what are you doing for Ukraine?” She says, “We’re packing a million meals”. She says, “I want to pay for them”. And she paid for all the meals – that was miracle number two. And then within four days we had over 2,500 volunteers show up on Saturday to pack a million meals. It is a 8,000 man hour event, and God just brought everyone in from all four corners of central Florida and packed the meals. But then, Scott, we didn’t really know how we were going to get the meals to Ukraine. And that’s where the next miracle came, where Ivanka helped us secure the UPS Foundation and they flew these million meals over on their dime. That was about a million dollar gift to us. It’s just a series of miracles that shows that God has great compassion for what’s happening there and that He wants to move through God’s people.
Outstanding – just the supply chain that you’re moving.
So our first strategy is to build church capacity through our partners, our second strategy to expand the supply pipeline. Our third strategy is to establish a transportation network – trucks and vans to move product and people – to Ukraine, and to bring refugees out of Ukraine, to centers in Moldova, Romania, and Poland, as we’re evacuating and helping these essential people that need to escape the devastation. It’s particularly young women, children, and the elderly that we’re helping to cross. We have to be very aware that there’s an enemy that is working actively to bring destruction. Polish police reported 50 suspected traffickers that were working at the train station.
The Reality of the Crisis
And I know that you guys were at that train station, and Todd you saw awesome things taking place and witness them. Maybe you can just tell us about what is happening from your eyewitness account.
At the train station, it was literally a sea of humanity – people coming off the trains from Ukraine and most just really just not even knowing where to go, what to do, who to see. And they were just being called across. There was one lady that ran past Dave and myself and Wendell, and she was just screaming at the top of her lungs. We asked our interpreter what she was saying, and she was screaming, “I can’t find my child. I’ve lost my child. Someone has taken my child”. And it was at that moment, we realized the situation was at its worst. And just to hear her scream in the frantic way that she was, just asking anyone for help, really brought home the whole issue of human trafficking that’s happening at the train station.
The Four Strategies and Filling the Void
Thank God that there are people, who are there that are really trying to reach out and help. And that strategy again, is to build church capacity, to expand the supply pipeline, to establish a transportation network. And our fourth strategy is to provide the partners we work with and the churches we work with funding to help them do and passion ministry.
I know that there were some beds that were needed. And Dave, I know that you were part of helping that church. What took place to help the bedding for the children that were sleeping on the ground? Maybe you can and tell us about that.
As Todd mentioned, the train station there on the Polish-Ukrainian border was absolutely packed with people. You have children, young mothers, the elderly – Holocaust survivors, and many of them were laying on the ground. And I was taking a video of that and the station manager said, “We don’t need pictures. We need cots”, and I replied, “How many do you need?” And through the generosity of donors in America, the good news is that train station is now fully outfitted with new cots, bedding, and pillows. And this is what we can do.
When that happened, when that young girl was abducted, I have to tell you, it’s one of those moments that will never leave my mind, haunting. We need to ask the question, “What is God up to? And what’s Satan up to?”. We know what Satan is up to John 10:10, “To rob, to destroy”… still destroy. But what is God up to? And I believe that at that border, along with the many other borders, that’s the war that’s taking place – for the souls of the Ukrainians right there. And we have an opportunity for the church to be there, but if we’re not there, predators, cults, and others will be there and they’re going to fill that void, but we’re there.
And we have to make sure that we have our vans – cars are not fast enough. We need to have vans, larger vehicles to make sure these women, children, elderly, the Holocaust survivors, are not stuck at those borders. And in the train station, that I described as a haunted house for young women, get ’em across that border into vehicles, transport them to these churches – safe, where they can be cared for, but also they’re going to actually, hear, and receive the love of Jesus through these great churches. That’s the strategy and that’s what’s working, but that’s what’s at stake.
And this four full strategy that’s CityServe working on. We want to thank everyone, every partner that helped us to help our partners overseas. We are very appreciative. I know CityServe has some even greater and aggressive goals. And Dave, maybe you want us walk us through some of the things we’re praying about. Some of the things we’re dreaming about to really make an even greater difference.
Well, I think for these goals to happen, people are going to need a new level of empathy. As Joseph Stalin said, “When one person dies, it’s a tragedy, but 1 million dies, it’s a statistic”. And we have to be careful that these Ukrainian people made in God’s Image, don’t become figures that just race across the screen, out of sight, out of mind. And we may send a little money and then we’re done. We’re talking about millions of lives that hang in the balance. And we’re believing that through CityServe and this network of churches, that we’re going to mobilize well over a thousand churches and synagogues throughout that region. We’re going to establish 500 church and synagogue-safe houses to make sure that these families have a safe place to live. And we’re going to expand this transportation network.
It only costs $22,000 to buy one of these vans. That’s going to save hundreds of lives. Think about that. It’s one of the best investments we can make in the Gospel, the Good News, right now – buying a van. And we’re going to expand that as Todd mentioned. We cannot only use these vans for evacuation, but we can use them for channeling food and other emergency supplies. Like these hygiene kits that have been donated. We can also help the refugees by taking them to doctor’s offices. And the transportation network is indispensable. We have to strengthen and build what we can do for $22,000 per vehicle.
Then Todd is working on another million meals. Todd, you may want to share about that.
Yeah. We because of what happened in Florida and in the packing of the million meals, it has really encouraged other churches to do the same – pack a hundred thousand meals here, or 50,000 meals. So we’re close to another million meals that have already been packed and paid for. And we’re working on the transportation side of that as we speak. So God’s people here are just rising up and saying, “Let me do my part.”
The Way to Pray
Todd, you’re also a pastor. You work with pastors, you work with churches and CityServe is committed to working through local churches and pastors on the ground in this needy area. Tell us about what some of those pastors are experiencing – the fatigue. How we can best pray and support those who are really on the front line of meeting these needs over there as pastors and spiritual leaders?
Yeah. Charles Dickens was the one that said, “It was the worst of times and it was the best of times”. We see the worst of humanity with what Putin is doing in what he is inflicting on the Ukrainian people. But at the same time, Scott, you get to see the best of God’s people and what they’re doing. These churches in Poland, Romania, and Moldavia; they have just stopped everything that they were doing. And it’s all hands on. It’s 24/7. It doesn’t stop. Compassion fatigue is really settling in on these pastors. When Dave, Wendell, and I were there a few weeks ago, you could see it in their eyes. And that was almost 14 to 21 days ago. I can only imagine what they’re going through right now. And as a ministry with CityServe, we need to invest into these pastors and into their spouses. You can’t give out what you don’t have in. And we need to pray for them. We need to pray God’s strength, but we also need to tangibly touch them. CityServe Europe is doing that. And CityServe International is really working on a plan to to make sure that we take care of the pastors, who are taking care of the Ukrainian people.
Doing Our Part Here at Home
So Dave, you’ve worked in compassion ministry for decades. What do you think America needs to hear? What do you think America needs to do? People that are listening today? How can we shine brightly? How can we be an influence to help in this very, very needy area of the world?
We need to remember that Jesus was a refugee. He knows what it was like to be unloved and unwelcome as he and his family fled across the river and to the land of Egypt. And that’s why I believe in Matthew 25, when Jesus said, “I was hungry and you gave Me no food. I was thirsty. You gave Me no drink. I was a Stranger. And you did not take Me in”. And His disciples are scratching their heads saying, “Jesus, when did we see You hungry, thirsty; a Stranger?”. And I believe that Jesus was reflecting back at that moment when He was a refugee. And that’s why He said, “As you’ve done it unto the least of these refugees, you’ve done it for Me”. That’s reason enough to respond to these Ukrainian refugees, with the love and compassion of Jesus Christ in a very tangible way.
And secondly, I really believe that if we are in prayer for these refugees, that what breaks the heart of God will break our heart and we will do whatever we possibly can to make a difference. And that’s prayer, giving, maybe even going there and serving. Like Todd mentioned, encouraging these pastors. We get the word “encouragement” from putting courage on and we’re actually planning right now, a retreat and going to have about a hundred pastors. Ukraine, Poland, Romania, Moldavia. And we’re going to love on ’em. We’re going to encourage them. And we’re going to talk about the strategy because tragically, the chances are, this is going to be protracted for quite a while.
Well, we’re just so impressed with all that CityServe is doing and just you guys being there in such a quick way. And we want to continue to pray and to love and to do, but maybe Pastor Todd, could we just ask you to just pray for Ukraine and pray that God will flow through His people like never before in this hour?
Yes, Father, we come before You thanking You that You are a God that is in charge and in control. Even when we feel like things are out of control and Father, we take some time right now and we would ask God that You would be with our Ukrainian brothers and sisters. Those who no fault of their own are experiencing extreme trial, extreme, hurt, extreme hardship. Families have been ripped apart. Families have been displaced and I pray God in the midst of this, I pray God that they would look to You. God, may You be their source of strength. May You be their source of help? We pray Father for the church, the Body of Christ in Poland, in Romania, Moldova, all those places, God, that are receiving the refugees. May You give them added strength. May You provide the resources. May You use them to be Your hands and Your feet? And then I pray Father, that You would be with the Body of Christ here in the United States. God, I would ask Lord that You would help us to not put them in the back burner of our minds, but on the forefront. And Lord, as Dave said, help us to have empathy. Help us to live out truly what is said in Scripture. When one member of the Body hurts, all the members hurt with it. And I would ask, Lord God, that You would help us to feel their pain. And I pray Father God, that what Satan meant for evil, may You turn it around for Your glory and for the good of Your people. Protect, guide, and provide. In Jesus name. Amen.
I want to thank you for being part of the Influencers Podcast today. We want you to go out now and make a difference in your neighborhood and don’t forget to touch the nations. God bless.