Ministry matters

Regional ministry offers aid to Ukrainian refugees | News

SEBIS, Romania — As the war in Ukraine escalates, a missionary organization with ties to the region is working to provide aid to refugees fleeing just across the Romanian border.

Barnabas Ministries, which was started in 1993 by Emlenton native Daniel Hurrelbrink, is a faith-based Christian organization dedicated to the protection, hope and strengthening of families of children and families. adolescents in rural Romania through education, empowerment and advocacy.

However, Russian aggression in neighboring Ukraine has created a more pressing need.

In a recent letter sent to some congregations in the region that have ties to Barnabas Ministries, Hurrebrink explained that approximately 800,000 Ukrainian citizens have already fled their country to Western Europe, including Romania.

“About 70% of these people go through [and] need help with information, food, shelter and transport,” he said, pointing out that the remaining 30% of current refugees are displaced and in need of temporary shelter. As a result, volunteers from border towns take them to family homes, hotels and other available spaces.

This “first wave” of refugees is not the end of the crisis, according to Hurrelbrink, as an even larger wave is expected. A “second wave” is expected to include those who have no contact with the West and who are displaced without a safe place to go.

“The first wave that we are currently experiencing is mostly upper and middle class people who are just passing through to join their families in other European countries,” Hurrelbrink said on Monday after a weekend at the Ukrainian border crossing where he and his children had personal encounters with refugees. “Many are just passing through Romania on their way to other countries in Europe where family members or friends are ready to welcome them.”

People entering the second wave, he explained, are likely to be much poorer and come to Romania without connections or opportunities to move further into Western Europe.

“They may stay in Romania longer, entirely dependent on the help of the Romanian people,” he said, adding that many of these refugees hope to eventually return to their homes in Ukraine. “That’s the group we’re primarily gearing up to help.”

Hurrelbrink reported that his Barnabas Ministries team is networking with contacts in Ukraine who are bringing people out of villages surrounding Kyiv while trying to keep their communities together.

“The first buses out of this area will come to us as soon as an evacuation corridor has been created,” he said, stressing that the buses will mainly contain children, women and the elderly. “Right now, people are trapped, [but] the first 50 will come to us and we will take care of housing and feeding them for the next few weeks.

To accommodate the refugees, Hurrelbrink said he has opened Casa Ezra — a ministry center in Sebis, Romania — to those currently in transit and will provide food, shelter and transportation to all who come. This building can accommodate up to 15 people.

In addition, he explained, Barnabas Ministries is also preparing to house a group of refugees at the children’s camp located about 10 miles from Casa Ezra in the small mountain village of Laz.

“Up to 50 people can stay quite comfortably for now; however, we will need to invest in a better sewage system, a water well and an emergency generator to handle this number of people for a longer period of time,” Hurrelbrink said of the children’s camp which offers programs summer for children and teenagers.

Hurrelbrink said that while these projects can be completed quickly and will continue to be useful in the future, camp preparation will cost around $13,000. He added that finances are a must right now as the crisis has taken everyone by surprise.

“The people arriving have been through so much already, and our hope is to provide a safe haven where they don’t have to worry about housing, food and basic necessities,” he said. , noting that 100% of all money donated for “Ukrainian Refugees” will be used for this purpose.

Those interested in donating should make checks payable to Barnabas Ministries and mail to PO Box 23, Emlenton, PA 16373. Donations can also be made through the organization’s website at Hurrelbrink also asked for prayer for the current situation and said anyone wishing to volunteer is more than welcome to join the team on site in Romania.

Although he admitted the current problem is “huge, with no easy solution”, Hurrelbrink said with thousands of Ukrainians crossing the border every day “with only the clothes on their backs”, and many more still trapped in their country, it is very obvious that something must be done immediately.

“My hope and prayer is that this war will stop and that these people can return home as soon as possible,” he said, adding that Barnabas Ministries and other Romanian residents will continue to help refugees from whatever way for as long as possible. “We don’t know exactly how long or how many people we will be able to support, but one thing I do know is that we will take it step by step and do everything in our power to help those who come to us. . ”