A Ministry of Presence at the Border


In Przemyśl, Poland, the global Church of the Nazarene has been responding since the onset of war in Ukraine.

When the war broke out, the first Nazarene responder at the Polish-Ukrainian border was a Syrian pastor, seeking ways to serve. Soon after, a team formed, putting out the call for volunteers to come and physically provide resources to the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing their homes.

volunteers at the train station

In Arizona, USA, Ukrainian Ira Petersen immediately knew that she needed to go.

“The help ‘path’ was kind of obvious,” Ira says. “Get as close as possible to Ukraine and Ukrainians. I couldn’t just sit and watch from the distance when I could actually do something.” Through Nazarene Compassionate Ministries’ presence at the border train station in Przemyśl, Poland, Ira says, “God showed the direction and opened the door.”

Train station

Since then, a steady stream of Nazarenes from Ireland, France, Bulgaria, England, the United States, South Africa, and beyond have flowed from their homes toward the tiny train station flooded with people in crisis. Students, families, professors, nurses, farmers, and pastors have all found a place to serve those fleeing the danger of war. Some haul suitcases up and down hundreds of flights of stairs, providing a moment of relief from a heavy burden. Some brew pot after pot of steaming tea, offering warmth within bitterly cold outdoor lines to passport control. Some sit and color with the littlest travelers, giving weary moms the chance to recharge a phone or repack a bag or simply rest in a chair.

Whatever their role, these Nazarene believers are answering the call to provide the ministry of presence in a moment of pain.

weary travelers

“This group of people had their safety and humanity taken from them,” says Caleb Sandlin, who lives in Missouri, USA. “I chose to volunteer on the border because I believe that’s what Christ would have done. I chose to volunteer on the border because I am a servant of Christ, and I refuse to not share the love of Christ with those in need.”

Matteo Ricciardi, of Italy, knew the call for volunteers was meant for his own ears. “I was moved by God to help,” Matteo says. “When we pray that God gives us ways to serve him and opportunities like these come to our attention, the response can only be to commit one’s strength, invest one’s time, and share grace.”

“Here at the border,” Ira says, smiling, “We have people that speak English with many accents, Ukrainian, Russian, and a lot of different languages. But,” she continues, “the language of love, language of care—anybody who cares and loves, they know that language and they could show it, they could share it.”

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