By Brian Blackwell, Message staff writer
GDANSK, Poland (LBM) – A Louisiana Baptist Disaster Relief team recently saw a “spiritual breakthrough” with Ukrainian refugees during a week of ministry in Poland.
Members of First Baptist Church, DeRidder, and Trinity Baptist Church, Lake Charles, worked out of First Baptist Church, Gdansk, May 8- 16. While there, the team treated the women to pedicures and took the refugees on an outing downtown.
The team’s kindness and love saw the refugees experience Christ-filled joy.
“Near the end of the trip we took the women and children out to enjoy ice cream and a Ferris wheel ride in downtown, which finally brought some smiles to their faces,” said Dan Batchelor, a member of FBC DeRidder. “The site coordinator at the church told us this was the first time that the refugees at the church began to smile and experience joy since disaster relief teams began taking teams here. We didn’t see any of the women or children accept Christ, but we saw the ice break which can lead to a spiritual harvest down the road.”
Since late March, Louisiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Mississippi each have sent one team per month to serve in Gdansk on a rotating basis.
However, Louisiana Baptists Disaster Relief state coordinator Stan Statham said most refugees have left Gdansk and the teams now are concentrating their efforts in Chociwel, Poland. He added DR teams could be sent to western Ukraine for ministry in the next few months.
A team comprised of members from First Baptist Church, LaPlace, and students from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, are in Chociwell, arriving June 5 with departure scheduled June 13. The group is constructing a playground at a local church and helping renovate housing for refugees.
“While it’s not typical disaster relief work, it’s been very productive,” Statham said. “We have been able to meet some much needed physical and spiritual needs of the refugees.”
Julie Reina, a member of Trinity Baptist, was among the female members who operated a makeshift fingernail salon. Reina said she was thankful God used their act of kindness to bring a smile to the women and children.
“By the time we left, the women were opening up to us,” Reina told the Message. “Once the women started opening up to us, their children followed and came out of their shell.
“God went before us on this trip,” she continued. “My main concern was how we would show God’s love to the women and children who have lost so much. I prayed that my mission would be that of Jesus who was there not to be served but to serve. It was absolutely beautiful how God moved.”