The number of people who have fled from Ukraine to neighboring countries in the west already exceeds 2 million. And yet: these are not simply "streams" or "waves". They are an unimaginable number of individual people, each with their own identity and history, who have set out to seek protection and refuge in a safe place.
They were on their way west from Kharkiv, crossed the border into Poland and came to Radom. In this city 100 km south of Warsaw, the journey was suddenly interrupted. The heavily pregnant woman could not continue because the birth of her child had begun. Father and mother gave the newborn the name "Miroslava" - the peace-loving one. An expression of deepest longing? A wish that the good and hopeful might prove stronger than the cruel and destructive of these days?
Two days later they arrived in Warsaw, where they found refuge in the United Methodist congregation - as more than 100 people had done in the days before. They sleep on mattresses placed in the church hall. They receive food, clothes, hygiene articles. In Pastor Andrzej Malicki, they find a pastor with whom they can communicate even without knowing English. He listens to them, prays with them, reads the Bible with them. And he bears the question with them: And where is God?
On Sunday, when church services are celebrated, the mattresses are moved aside. But perhaps what happens during the week is at least as much worship.
The officials in Warsaw are preparing a new room for refugees in order to expand the capacity. A great many people from Ukraine, who are fleeing to Poland as a first step, are traveling via Warsaw. Accordingly, the platforms of the Polish capital are full. Thanks to the support from the USA, Germany and Switzerland, the leaders of the UMC can buy mattresses, pillows, sleeping bags, clothes, shoes. And, of course, food. Most of the time, people stay in Warsaw for only two nights, get some rest, strengthen themselves. Then they travel on, and new people find refuge, strength, clothing.
Numerous Polish United Methodist congregations are active in a similar way, trying to alleviate the plight of people from Ukraine as much as they can. In Stare Juchy, where the church has a youth center with a corresponding accommodation infrastructure, preparations are being made to welcome refugees as well.
And even if they do not all accommodate a newborn girl named Miroslava - the hope for peace unites them. And the will to live it in the challenging experiences of these days.
Source: Superintendent Andrzej Malicki, Warsaw / Urs Schweizer, Assistant to the Bishop