“We’re going to continue to provide aid, and we’re going to help you rebuild
your churches.” – CityServe CEO Dave Donaldson


BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – The CityServe International church empowerment network hosted a dinner and benefit concert on Wednesday in Nashville to honor heroes on the frontlines in war-torn Israel and Ukraine.

The evening featured captivating stories of bravery and faith in the face of horror. Award-winning artists Michael W. Smith and Danny Gokey headlined the benefit for a crowd of notable business and civic leaders, pastors, and international dignitaries.

Man playing piano.

Pastor Paula White, who served as a faith adviser to former President Donald Trump, opened the night by thanking the CityServe church-empowerment network for its life-saving disaster-response efforts at home and abroad.

CityServe CEO Dave Donaldson tapped into the spirit of the evening by sharing the story of a refugee mom he met in a tent on a relief trip to Ukraine. This young woman held onto his arm for dear life and begged him not to leave.

Donaldson told the audience, “‘Don’t leave me,’ she pleaded. ‘Don’t leave.’ And that’s our message for you tonight: We’re not leaving!”

“We’re going to stand with you with our prayers,” Donaldson assured those in need in war-torn regions of the world. “We’re going to continue to provide aid, and we’re going to help you rebuild your churches.”

Todd Lamphere, CityServe’s Vice President of Government Relations, helped tell the dramatic story of Ein HaBesor, an agricultural community that accounts for 60% of Israel’s produce, located just a few miles east of Gaza. Lamphere interviewed the residents of Ein HaBesor live on stage who told the harrowing story of how vigilant guards closed the settlement’s security gates just two minutes before Hamas terrorists launched their merciless assault, saving all within.

Soon after the terror attacks of October 7, CityServe launched Operation Save Ein HaBesor, an opportunity for young people to travel to Israel to help bring in the Ein HaBesor harvest before vital produce withers on the vine.

CityServe speaker.
At the benefit, CityServe also honored 12-year-old Lucy Sharp and her family. Months ago, Lucy was personally moved by the horror Israel had faced during Hamas’s terror attacks and she donated every penny of the $1,500 she had been saving up to buy her own car some day to instead help those who were dealing with the aftermath of the attack.

The audience was inspired by Lucy’s tremendous generosity and gave her a rousing round of applause. Members of her Tennessee church were also inspired by Lucy’s leadership on this issue and they in turn donated over $250,000 to help adopt Ein HaBesor as their sister city.

Ukrainian Bishop Anatoly, who leads over 1,800 Ukrainian churches, shared with the audience what life is like in Ukraine, where churches have become beacons of hope for local residents. Anatoly explained that churches across Ukraine are giving residents a place to gather for warmth, a hot drink, along with prayer and encouragement with their neighbors.

Cityserve speakers

At the benefit, CityServe emphasized the need for trauma care in war-torn Ukraine. Those in attendance heard the story of a brave 20-year-old refugee mom who lost her husband. This young woman is now working to heal her own pain by helping others recover from trauma at the Family Center that CityServe launched this summer in Ukraine.