Slava Ukraini (Glory to Ukraine)! is the message a local pastor had for members of his congregation after returning from his second mission trip to help people fleeing war-torn Ukraine.
“Also, pray for peace in Ukraine, so that those who were forced to flee will be able to return home,” added Pastor Drahus Oslik, associate pastor of Evangelical Lutheran Church in Waynesboro.
He and his brother, Miro Oslik, also of Waynesboro, traveled to Slovakia, where they were born and their parents still live, to visit partner congregations.
“We had an amazing visit to Slovakia. Most joyous was our reunion with our Ukrainian friends. Some have gone home since we saw them last, but many remain displaced. For those staying in Slovakia, we were trying to create better and more suitable accommodations. We were able to take some of them out for dinner and even to a water park,” Drahus Oslik noted.
“We engaged in wonderful conversations with the pastors in Pribelce (the brothers’ home Lutheran congregation) and Velky Krtis, who have been aiding the refugees since February. They are truly Christ’s hands and feet to the Ukrainian brothers and sisters in need. The churches are helping the families to enroll children in schools, and providing medical support through taking them to the doctors or through mobile clinics,” Drahus Oslik added.
“The Ukrainians we’ve met are regular people just like us,” according to Miro Oslik. “They laugh, they cry, and they are trying to do the best they can. They are very friendly and are thankful for everything. It is not easy to leave one’s home, but they do not lose their spirits and move on. I hope the war ends soon and they can return to their loved ones and live a good life.”
“To show their thanks, ELC Pribelce sent a book showcasing many of the beautiful and spiritual landmarks in Slovakia, and the Ukrainian children made cards and bracelets for us,” Drahus Oslik said.
“As the war in Ukraine continues, it is becoming more obvious that for some of the families it will not be possible to return back home anytime soon. With this reality, our focus is shifting towards helping the families to gain independence through finding suitable jobs and sufficient living arrangements,” offered Drahus Oslik.
“I believe that the financial help from the people in our community has gone to the right hands,” Miro Oslik said. “I am glad that Pastor Drahus is directly working with the congregations in Slovakia. These pastors and members of their congregations are making a difference. The energy and effort to help are still there and people will not stop helping. The altruism of people in the USA and Slovakia gives me hope that people in this world have not lost their sense of love for their neighbors. By caring for one another, we will make it a better place, not just for us, but for the generations to come.”
To make a financial contribution to the effort, visit: www.elchome.org and click on Give Online/Ukrainian Refugee Fund.