"What do you need?" Sometimes it’s the simplest questions that mean the most.
Pastor Łukasz Ostruszka, the newly inducted pastor of St. Martin's church in Krakow, Poland, didn't hesitate with his answer. He urgently needed supplies so his congregation could welcome and care for Ukrainian refugees.
To prepare, the congregation of St. Martin’s rapidly remodeled the church basement to shelter several families. In the space of a week, the ordinary bathrooms were fitted with showers, beds were brought in, and workers redid water pipes and electrical wiring to accommodate more users.
"This was a space for our parish meetings, but now it’s a hostel for refugees," says Pastor Ostruszka. "A place to sleep, to be warm."
Your emergency response gifts are at work, providing relief and care
When Lutheran World Relief staff in Poland found Pastor Ostruszka's church in desperate need, the timing seemed almost divine. Because of your loving gifts, when families arrive to the church, they will be greeted with toys and milk for the children, toothpaste and toothbrushes, hygiene products, toiletries and energy biscuits.
Your generosity delivered a cargo van packed with this critical aid — and it arrived at just the right time.
"We were in shock. It's like something from a movie," says Pastor Ostruszka of his congregation members. "We never expected this. We didn't expect so many people from Ukraine."
The first group of families is coming from Kharkiv, a city heavily hit by the war. Pastor Ostruszka's wife is coordinating the families' 3-hour journey by bus from the border to Krakow. The women and their children will have a safe place to rest, and, because of your compassion, they won’t have to worry about finding essential items.
St. Martin's has helped refugees before, like during a crisis on the Belarussian border. They also helped people coming from Afghanistan, Iraq and countries in Africa.
"Everyone is welcome," says Pastor Ostruszka. "We hope they will feel at home."
The numbers now are staggering, and it's clear that the renovated church hall will be a haven for an ongoing stream of frightened, exhausted mothers. As the buses keep coming, your love also carries Ukraine's refugees, bringing them support and aid in a time they need it the very most.
This response is possible because of you
Your generosity is vital to support the work of congregations like St. Martin’s. Some 2.6 million people have fled Ukraine since the conflict begin, and more than one million of them are children. At this time, financial gifts are the number one need to assist refugees on the move.
Families are in dire need of immediate aid, such as food, water, shelter, clothing and medical supplies. Your emergency gift will help to deliver urgent support and care for those who have left everything behind.
Pastor Ostruszka knows there’s a long road ahead. "This is just the start," he says heavily.
He and the congregation are committed to the long haul, and with your love, so are we.
"We should do this. Our Lord gives us something beautiful, and we should go to other people and give to them," he says.