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Crates for Ukraine: Meeting Needs in a Meaningful Way

The people of Ukraine recently marked 100 days of war in their country. And MTW missionaries have continued to meet the needs of people and churches across the country who are suffering in unique ways. By providing aid to people in the name of Jesus Christ, they encourage those traumatized by war and create inroads for the gospel of grace. 

MTW Ukraine missionary Doug Shepherd recently talked about a new initiative he hopes will solve several challenges that have emerged as they provide aid to the people who need it most throughout Ukraine. Through a new process and website, churches across the United States have a unique opportunity to meet the specific needs of both Ukrainian refugees and those still living in country.

Doug, who has been leading various relief efforts since before this war began, read from Psalm 119 and reflected, “God has not left Himself without a witness and He is faithfully reaching His people. We can trust in this fact despite what we may see.” He continued, “The Church continues to respond well to the situation and manifest the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Meeting Tangible Needs

One of the challenges Doug’s team recently faced was the disorganized way in which aid materials were supplied to his team and distributed. As aid began to arrive in their makeshift care and trauma centers, the leadership team recognized the need to identify a better process for requesting and providing aid to those in need. 

Doug said, “We would receive boxes of aid materials like diapers, food, and toiletries. And then our team would need to sort them and get them distributed as soon as possible. Our process was very reactionary at first as the basements of some churches were turned into aid centers.” Doug showed a picture with large piles of aid materials needing to be organized in one church’s basement to help demonstrate the need for organization.

Store house

As teams were assembled to organize care packages with various materials, these materials would then be distributed to locations in Eastern Ukraine, like the city of Kyiv. Doug said, “We’d go from city to city, responding to the needs as best as we could. We provided medication to a woman who’d had a stroke and had no access to medication or medical care in her area.” 

Additionally, several large international relief organizations who wanted to help but didn’t know anyone in country had also reached out to the MTW team and asked if they could send them aid materials for distribution. 

Churches led by MTW missionaries became a partner for distributing medical, food, and hygiene products to the people with the greatest need. But in the midst of such significant needs and a great flow of generosity, they needed a better way to strategically organize the distribution.

Crates for Ukraine

The answer came in a newly developed initiative to serve those providing aid materials and those working to distribute that aid in a timely fashion to those with the most pressing needs. They’re calling it “Crates for Ukraine” and a recently launched website describes the entire initiative. 

Crates for Ukraine started with the consolidation of several lists of the most requested medical, food, and hygiene materials. Instead of receiving large amounts of one item, crate lists include a manageable amount of the most needed items, making them more useful from the moment they are first packed and reduces the need for further sorting in country. 

“Instead of reacting repeatedly, we asked how we could best let the Ukrainian churches and people make their requests through us, Doug said.” This listening and understanding led to the creation of the crate lists. 

Another key aspect of this new strategic initiative is wise sourcing. As Doug said, “We know the cheapest materials in the world are available in the United States. Because people in the U.S. have access, abundant supply, and low costs, we created the lists, determining what people in the U.S. could send affordably.” As U.S. churches pack their Crates for Ukraine with the lists provided, they are stewarding relief dollars better than if the materials were acquired elsewhere. 

Several U.S. churches have already begun packing crates according to specific listed needs provided by the MTW Ukraine crisis response team. After packing them, they then courier those crates from the U.S. to Krakow, Poland, where they can then be distributed to refugees and driven to other locations within Ukraine.

Crates unloading from car

Another challenge the team had to overcome are the very slow shipping speeds, high taxes on shipped goods, and the long delays at customs. These delays and costs could potentially keep aid from being made available for weeks or even months. Because of the great urgency for aid, Crates for Ukraine had to find an effective way to get aid in country more quickly.

The solution was for U.S. churches to send their crates to Poland through the airlines with the assistance of a courier—ideally a volunteer from the church. This solves each of the previously mentioned challenges. A courier can quickly provide a detailed list of everything in a crate and allow the materials to make the journey from initial packing to distribution much more efficiently.

Crates in Airport

Doug said, “We recently had a courier from a Texas partner church fly in with six crates. He was able to get them through customs quickly without additional costs or duties.” Those materials were then driven into a makeshift distribution center in Lviv, Ukraine, where they were quickly transported to the rest of the country.

Crates for Ukraine has developed a fast, cheap, and easy way to get aid materials to Ukrainian people with the greatest needs.

Remembering Our Why

Doug reminds those wanting to support the Ukrainian people what a strategic ministry this is: “We are giving aid in a meaningful way where the help really helps. Our team’s mission to share the gospel of Jesus Christ as we provide aid. This is about demonstrating the love of Christ and the gospel to people made in the image of God in one of the most difficult times of their lives. Later, as we are able, we plan to follow-up with the establishment of gospel communities.” 

Crates for Ukraine grew out of a desire to respond to the tangible needs of the Ukrainian people and churches. As God often does, the MTW team is looking to fulfill God’s global mission by meeting tangible needs in times of trauma and desperation. 

“Receiving the aid is incredibly encouraging to people,” Doug said. “We believe that if we seek to honor God in the process, He can be trusted to take care of everything outside of our control.” 

To participate in Crate for Ukraine, visit cratesforukraine.com. To make a donation or learn more about MTW’s efforts in Ukraine visit mtw.org/ukraine-crisis.

Andrew Hess, Kyiv Lviv Odesa Ukraine Jun 7, 2022
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Pray against rape, murder, and capture of men, women, and children in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine. Pray for protection for the vulnerable.

Give thanks for and pray for the Krakow crisis team, the distribution of aid, and the shelter ministry as the team cares for displaced Ukrainians.

Pray for courage for Christ’s followers in and around Ukraine. mtw.org/ukraine-crisis

Pray for families who have evacuated, leaving behind the only place they have ever known. Pray for transition and provision. 

Pray for pastors who have stayed behind in Ukraine as they minister to their congregations and the surrounding communities in a time of war.

Pray for the health, rest, and ability to continue for those who are working with and making arrangements for refugees. It can feel like the future of each one of them is in your hands. mtw.org/ukraine-crisis

Pray that our brothers and sisters who have lost everything will cling to the community of believers and ultimate hope in Christ, and for the massive movement of people and the refugee work our teams are involved in focusing on Lviv and Krakow. mtw.org/ukraine-crisis

Pray for Ukraine to trust what is not changeable and to hope in what cannot be lost. May the Church in Ukraine be strengthened through this war. mtw.org/ukraine-crisis

Pray for Ukrainian refugees who are being welcomed by the church in Belgorod to be drawn to Christ. 

Pray for MTW's ministry to refugees in Greece, Germany, Ukraine, Uganda, Panama, and the U.S.

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