Springfield church sending members to Poland to set up relief effort for Ukraine refugees
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The worldwide outpouring of support for Ukraine extends to the Ozarks as well.
On Monday a Springfield church sent a trio of its members on the way to Poland to help hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing from Ukraine because of the Russian invasion.
It was mid-afternoon at the Springfield-Branson National Airport when three men from the Connect Church in east Springfield boarded a connecting flight to Chicago on their way to Poland.
It is estimated that over half a million Ukrainian residents have left their country with over 360,000 heading to Poland. Many of them spent grueling days making the trip with their children and once they arrived, had no idea where to go next.
Polish residents at the border have rushed to help their Ukrainian neighbors with some even offering housing for the refugees but there’s no doubt that the humanitarian effort will turn into an overwhelming project.
That’s why the Connect Church members are heading that way.
“We have to leave our families and our comfortable lives here but we realize people are struggling in Ukraine,” said Bogdan Golosinski, one of the men traveling to Poland. “We hope to help them with food and shelter while they’re waiting in nine-or-ten hour lines to get through the Polish border.”
“Our team is leaving today to provide all the logistics, the supply lanes, and the deliveries,” added his brother Peter Golosinski, the Connect Church Pastor who’s staying in Springfield to help organize the effort. “We’re setting up the people on the ground so we can go there and distribute all the basic needs to those people. But also we’ll preach the gospel. Those people need to have hope.”
Peter said the Connect Church has a congregation of about 1,500 at its location just off Sunshine Street and that about 15 percent of the attendees are of Slovak descent.
Peter himself grew up in Ukraine in a town about 120 miles south of Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital city. But when he was 19 years old his father moved the family to the U.S.
“My dad was a pastor in Ukraine and we came here as refugees because my dad spent some time in prison for his faith,” Peter explained. “So when the opportunity came he moved us to the United States to pursue the American dream.”
After living in Sacramento, California, and the Pacific northwest when he first came to the states, Peter moved to Springfield in 2008 and now has his own family that includes four children.
He also looks at the Ukraine-Russian conflict as a family matter with one family member turning on the other as the countries share a kinship and strong ties among their people.
“I am married to a Russian girl,” Peter said. “But it’s never been an issue for us. That is why it’s so frustrating right now that it came to this.”
The Connect Church has also started a fundraising effort for Peter’s native country and the pastor pointed out that it’s not just Ukraine that his congregation is holding up in prayer.
“We are praying for the Russians,” he said. “We are praying for the Russian army to lose the will to fight when they go to Ukraine and see that they’ve been lied to. We hope they see Ukraine is a peaceful country and they lose the will to fight and go home.”
Peter also expressed his appreciation for the outpouring of love from people all over the world who have protested and pledged their support to Ukraine and suggested that this could be just the beginning of Russia’s takeover attempts.
“They (the rest of the world) understand that if this does not stop in Ukraine they are going to be next,” he said. “Here is the simple truth. If Russia stops fighting there’s going to be no more war. If Ukraine stops fighting there will be no more Ukraine.”
A prospect that is starting to sink in with those who have ties to that country.
“I still have family back there and it’s more emotional than I anticipated,” Bogdan said. “That’s why a lot of this trip we’re making is emotional-driven. You don’t care about what could happen to yourself. You just drop everything and go to help people in need because they need us more than ever right now.”
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