Greetings in the name of our Lord, who declares to be the "Father of the fatherless and protector of widows…” He "settles the solitary in a home….” (Psalm 68:5-6) These claims do not lack substance. Even in these perilous times, God is very much involved in what has been going on in Ukraine. He is continuously providing for the oppressed and the persecuted through various means. We are just a very small part of His remarkable work in this respect. And it is a privilege to be His coworkers and emissaries. Meanwhile, we are also learning as we are helping, so this ministry has didactic purposes as well. The Lord can use certain situations for the benefit of many, both helpers and those who are being helped.
The focus of our ministry toward the needy changed a bit during the last month. We had just one refugee to whom we had to offer shelter in Miskolc. So it seems – at least for the moment – that this facet of our ministry will wither. But the Lord opened other doors and used us in different ways. Here are two main areas:
First, our ministry in Miskolc. As I mentioned in my earlier letters, there are several hundred mothers and children in a nearby government shelter. At their request we started language classes for them. This program is working out extremely well. Originally, we had begun two Hungarian language classes per week. But then they said they would like to have an English course as well. So we started English classes too twice a week. By now I have got accustomed to hearing ‘foreign languages’ coming out from our church sanctuary – and we did not become Charismatic. J During these language classes we provide everything these ladies and children need: exercise books, pencils, etc., including refreshments. Needless to say, how thankful they are for everything.
One highlight. One afternoon after the classes, we invited some of the Ukrainian ladies to have coffee with us. To our amazement, they stayed for nearly three hours to chat. This was a wonderful opportunity to share the gospel with them. As you probably know, they are mostly nominal and superstitious Eastern Orthodox; until now we have not met even one evangelical Christian among them.
Secondly, our ministry outside the borders of Hungary. We have nearly completed the fourth phase of our aid-distribution effort in Ukraine. The Aid Committee of our church approved subsidies for another 170 persons. The value of this aid program was $15,000. We managed to take these funds over the border. One interesting new development is that we included in this program several Ukrainian families who are refugees in Western Romania (Oradea). We got to know them through our church in Cluj-Napoca. So we directed a $2,000 help to them – which was delivered just last week.
As I close – on behalf of our Ukraine Aid Committee – I would like to thank you again for your ongoing support in prayer and finances. Here are some prayer requests:
Since I wrote my last letter, Sub-Carpathia (the region where we have several small churches) has also been reached by two missiles. So the war came closer to them. Pray for the safety of the civilians. It seems that you can easily become a target not only if you live close to a military base, but also if you live nearby a railroad, main road junction or a depository.
Our pastors from Ukraine informed me that the shortage of fuel is getting more imminent. In fact, in some cities fuel is rationalized. This could hinder our ability to distribute aids, visit people, etc. Pray that the Lord may provide at least as much fuel as is needed to keep things going on.
Pray for our people who would like to see some light at the end of the tunnel. It is exhausting to be under the continuous threat of a war, without seeing its end and without the possibility of doing any future planning.
Some of the young men in several families are reaching the age of 18 this summer, thus they could be taken into the army any time. You can imagine how this affects their parents. So keep them in your prayers.
The tension between the European countries and Russia is more and more palpable. Especially after Sweden and Finland expressed their desire to join NATO. And after Russia had stopped transporting natural gas to several Western countries. Only the Lord knows where this will lead.
I hope to write you a new update during the summer. May the Lord be with you all.
In His service,
Rev. Imre Szoke