With an urgent need for accommodation all over the country following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, OM in Moldova responded by taking in refugees at their buildings in Chișinău. Initially, these were mostly refugees who needed a place to sleep for a night or two, as well as help in organising further travel or getting necessary documents sorted before driving on to other countries.

Soon the team increasingly received more people who needed to stay longer, having nowhere else to go. Alongside accommodation and food, they offered fellowship, activities, spiritual input and professional counselling sessions for the adults (mainly women); they also set up a children’s play area and organised occasional activities for the children and teenagers.

It proved a great blessing that good communication is generally possible between Moldovans and Ukrainians, and as the majority of the team in Moldova are Moldovan nationals, there were many opportunities for deeper conversations with the refugees.

The first special event organised for the refugees was on 8th March - International Women’s Day - which is an important celebration in former Soviet countries, but this year many Ukrainian women had to spend it far from home and separated from their husbands. To make this day a bit more cheerful, a special programme was arranged for the refugee women and their children, who could take part in different activities. Songs, small gifts and the message of a God who loves them infinitely were shared.

At Easter, there was a celebration with the group of refugees from Ukraine who were staying with the team at that time. Going through different stations, they could interactively experience some of the events of the last week of the life of Jesus - up to His crucifixion and through to His resurrection - and hear about what this all means for us today.

Some team members offered English lessons to refugees who were staying at OM bases. Those participating may have considered it a useful preparation for moving on to other European countries, or maybe simply sought to be distracted from their memories and worries for a short time.

Many activities were aimed at helping people to deal with their experiences of the previous weeks and begin the healing process. The team in Moldova were humbled and thankful for the readiness and gratitude with which the refugees participated and responded to what was shared.

One family who crossed the border had no idea where to go and what they would do for the night. When they saw ten vehicles driving in a line, they decided to follow them. This convoy was a group of 55 deaf and mute people, who were on their way to OM. The family drove behind them all the way from the border to OM - approximately a two-hour drive - and were amazed to see that they could be hosted that night with a bed, a warm shower and a hot meal.

One of the Ukrainian women staying at the OM base was an English teacher. Although she had left her home and her country, and her pupils were also spread across multiple countries, where they had fled with their families, she continued teaching them online, striving to bring some structure and normality to these children’s lives.

She was also giving lessons to other refugee children staying at OM buildings at that time. Her resilience and determination inspired the team, and even though their contribution may not have been more than providing a desk and internet access, it was a reminder that even small things can enable someone else to be a blessing.

One woman shared about a dream she had had around the turn of the year. In that dream she had found herself in a big house that she had never seen before, not knowing where she was. A few weeks later the war started; she fled to Moldova and found accommodation at OM. She recognised the training centre, where she had now found refuge, as the building she had seen in her dream.

A lot of work was going on behind the scenes to be able to offer such hospitality. It was a whole new way of doing things, not being able to make a plan, never knowing how many people would come and at what time of day or night.

Maria, who coordinates kitchen at the OM base, shared what one of the first days was like for her: She was preparing to cook for the five refugees she had been told were coming, when she heard she had to include six additional people for the meal and adapted plans accordingly - only to then receive another phone call telling her that a group of 55 more people was on the way! Surprises and challenges were frequent, but by the grace of God, the team were able to bless many.

You can find specific ways to pray for the ongoing crisis in Ukraine below.

Pray for Ukraine