U.S.-based charity set to deliver power generators, blankets to local churches turned ‘winter warmth centers’
LOVES PARK, Ill. — A U.S.-based charity has launched ‘Project Heat and Hope’ to rush power generators, thermal blankets and other critical supplies to local churches in Ukraine as the nation faces a brutal and potentially deadly winter.
Hundreds of local churches are turning their buildings into “winter warmth centers” in an effort to make sure desperate Ukrainians — starved of electricity — survive the freezing onslaught.
Relentless drone attacks and missile strikes have wiped out a huge swath of Ukraine’s power grid, causing rolling blackouts and cutting off electricity and heat to millions.
Illinois-based Slavic Gospel Association (SGA, www.sga.org) is helping local churches across Ukraine turn their facilities into places where families can shelter and stay warm. It’s shipping power generators and thermal blankets to its church network on the frontlines.
“The need is huge, and the crisis is upon us,” said Pastor Igor Bandura, a leader of the Ukrainian Baptist Union, representing more than 2,000 evangelical churches across the nation. “The spirit of Ukrainians is still strong. Our people are not in panic, but thousands are struggling.”
Generators will be shipped from neighboring Germany and Poland, while blankets, firewood and coal will be purchased in Ukraine.
Churches ‘Bursting At Seams’
As the crisis deepens, Ukraine’s churches — once struggling to fill their pews — are bursting at the seams. “Our churches are full every Sunday,” Bandura said.
With SGA’s support, determined Ukrainian pastors have been delivering food parcels, providing some 8 million meals since the war started.
The church network — cultivated over nearly 90 years through communism and the Cold War era — is “the most effective, grassroots way to get aid to the people who need it the most,” said SGA president Michael Johnson.
“This is one of the biggest humanitarian crises in Europe since World War II,” he said. “It’s more than just a ‘cold war.’ Millions are about to face frozen temperatures, and without our help they’ve no way to keep warm. The most vulnerable could die.”
‘We’ll Stay Warm Somehow’
Iryna, who lives 90 miles north of Kyiv, has been stockpiling as much firewood as she can afford to buy. “We got the cheapest they had at the sawmill,” she told Radio Liberty.
“Good firewood costs at least ($165) per carload,” she said. That’s 3 weeks’ wages for many Ukrainians.
Others scavenge for scraps. Some of her neighbors are chopping up furniture or dismantling outbuildings so they have wood to burn.
“We’ll stay warm somehow,” Iryna said, resolutely.
With towns and cities across Ukraine plunged into blackouts, millions of Ukrainians like Iryna will be desperate for heat and clamoring for hope, Johnson said.
“Only the local churches have the people and facilities in place across Ukraine to provide safe refuge, winter warmth, and real hope through the Gospel message,” he said. “We’re asking churches across America to show their support and join us in urgent prayer.”
Founded in 1934, Slavic Gospel Association (SGA, www.sga.org) helps “forgotten” orphans, widows and families in Russia, the former Soviet countries of Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and Russian-speaking immigrants in Israel – caring for their physical needs and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. SGA supports an extensive grassroots network of local evangelical missionary pastors and churches in cities and rural villages across this vast region.
PHOTO CUTLINE: AIMING TO AVERT WINTER CATASTROPHE IN UKRAINE: U.S.-based Slavic Gospel Association (SGA, www.sga.org) has launched Project Heat and Hope to rush generators and thermal blankets to local churches as Ukrainians face a brutal and potentially deadly winter.