Teanna Sunberg, a missionary with the Church of the Nazarene who serves, along with her husband Jay, as the Field Strategy Coordinator team in Central Europe, has been leading the Nazarene response to Ukrainian refugees at the Polish-Ukrainian border since the war in Ukraine started last February. In what follows, she reflects on the bombings across Ukraine on October 11, the first such attack in many months.
Tuesday, October 11. Przemyśl, Poland.
I’ve heard the following reports from our neighbors in Ukraine—
- A Nazarene family watched and heard a rocket streak by their apartment building at 6:30 this morning. It detonated in the city center of Kyiv.
- The daily train from Kyiv to Przemyśl, Poland, was significantly delayed. We’ve heard unconfirmed reports that it left the station just minutes before a rocket detonated.
- We’ve also had unconfirmed reports of a medical team that left Ukraine by car just 30 minutes before the rockets hit Kyiv.
The line of people returning to Ukraine today is very short, as people are trying to avoid going back during a time of increased violence. We’ve also seen a significant increase in people bringing children, most babies and toddlers, out of Ukraine since Monday.
Our team of Nazarene volunteers at the border went in search of large teapots to be ready to give hot tea out to people. We suspect there might be large numbers of people arriving at the border in the next few days. However, just as possibly, people may shelter in place, resulting in lower numbers at the train station. Either way, volunteers with Courage for the Journey, the refugee ministry of NCM Polska, are there and serving.
I’ve spent parts of my day with young Ukrainians who do not want to be alone today. We are doing a lot of talking, trying to process questions for which none of us have any answers. The bombings today are triggers for many who lived through the invasion on February 24. This is significant trauma.
Even when the news cycle forgets to update about Ukraine, Iran, or North Africans seeking freedom, autonomy, and their voice—it doesn’t mean the war is over or that people are safe. In addition, even though the war in Ukraine might seem to be a long way away, the effects actually reach far beyond the country’s borders. These attacks targeted the Ukrainian energy grid, but the rest of the world is experiencing the effects in the form of food and energy availability.
Courage for the Journey relies on volunteers to care for travelers at the border. We have been sobered, encouraged, and touched by the number of volunteers who have asked if they can serve. These volunteers have ranged from ages 19 to 70 and have been a mix of Americans and Europeans, including people from Ukraine, Bulgaria, Croatia, and the United Kingdom. Most are lay people who volunteer for a few weeks, but some have served full-time for several months. Their ministry includes providing a safe space for women and children to rest, help securing train tickets, assistance carrying luggage, and providing food and water, and offering listening ears and spiritual support.
This team of volunteers, and those they are caring for, need your prayers.
Pray for peace.
Our hope is in Christ.
Want to help with refugees at the border?
Volunteers are especially needed to serve in Przemyśl during the months of January and February—email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more and apply.