Behind the Lens: How believers respond to Ukrainian refugees

Due to the war, millions of Ukrainians, mostly women and children, have fled to neighboring countries. My latest assignment took me to Romania and Moldova to cover how Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams, Send Relief and International Mission Board missionaries are partnering with local Baptists to serve refugees pouring into the two countries.

At a key border crossing in Romania, the Romanian Baptists were one of the very first ones to respond and are now partnering with Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams. They have a station set up with water, snacks and a cell phone charging table to help refugees crossing into Romania. Romanian Baptists from different churches partner to house refugees in churches or in individuals’ homes.

Christians are responding with love to provide, shelter, food and transportation, and they are also praying for and sharing God’s Word to comfort refugees both physically and spiritually.

I try to photograph as many interesting local sights as I can when I visit new places. Both Romania and Moldova are known for beautiful and centuries-old Orthodox churches. As I photographed both types of churches, Baptist and Orthodox, the contrast in how their facilities were used during this refugee crisis was apparent.

St. John the New Monastery in Suceava, Romania. Built in the early 16th century, it is one of the eight monasteries designated as a Moldova UNESCO World Heritage Site. IMB Photo

Inside the St. John the New Monastery, an Orthodox Christian kisses a holy relic and offers a silent prayer. IMB Photo

An Orthodox Christian writes prayer requests on a piece of paper to give to a priest inside the Cathedral of Christ’s Nativity in Chisinau, Moldova. IMB Photo

The inside of St. John the New Monastery, Suceava, Romania, is well-preserved and hosts holy relics and painting that are centuries old. IMB Photo

Growing up in church, I was taught the four important functions of the church. First and foremost, it’s a house of worship and prayer. The Word of God must be preached and taught; it is a fellowship of a body of believers and serves and witnesses to those outside of church.

A choir sings with an orchestra during a worship service at Bethany Baptist Church in Balti, Moldova. IMB Photo

The Sunday worship service is filled with Christians at Bethany Baptist Church in Balti, Moldova. IMB Photo

Bryant Wright, president of Send Relief, delivers the Sunday message at Bethany Baptist Church in Balti, Moldova. IMB Photo

Church members prepare a meal for the Ukrainian refugees staying at Dancu Baptist Church in Dancu, Moldova. IMB Photo

A Moldovan Christian who can speak Russian leads a Bible study with Ukrainian refugees who are staying at Emanuel Baptist Church in Calafindesti, Romania. IMB Photo

The beauty of the church is not in how well it’s decorated or how it follows the traditions, but in how it carries out the purpose of its existence.

Pray that the churches in Romania and Moldova will continue to show love and minister to those in need. Pray that the Christians around the world will unite in this effort and join in serving and witnessing to the refugees.