Unless your children are very young, they are probably aware of the situation in Ukraine. As someone who has spent time in ministry in Ukraine, my heart breaks to see my friends’ lives be decimated by Russia. Some were refugees from when Russia invaded Ukraine eight years ago and will be starting over again for the second time in their lives. While your family may live far away from the action, there are still plenty of ways for young people to get involved in serving Ukrainians.
Although the needs Ukrainians have will change over time, these ideas are things young people can do right now to help.
- Pray. Young people may underestimate the power of prayer. As the bombs fell, people fled the fighting or loved ones were separated, Ukrainian friends were literally begging for our prayers. Make it more meaningful for older kids and teens by encouraging them to do research each day to find specific prayer requests for what is happening currently. If you know someone involved in ministry in Ukraine, you may even know the names of specific people to include in your prayers by name’.
- Earn money to donate to ministries serving others in Ukraine or in one of the Eastern European countries receiving refugees. My ministry partners are spending tremendous amounts of money to provide Christians they know in Ukraine with the funds to get food, medicine and clothes to those who cannot flee and refugees. They are also providing transportation to safe zones for the elderly, people with special needs and others who would have great difficulty fleeing otherwise. Because they have been involved in ministry in Eastern Europe for decades, these groups are also involved with churches in countries like Poland to provide funds for them to set up refugee shelters in their churches. One Church of Christ in Poland added shower and laundry facilities, set up a dorm with tons of bunk beds, gathered linens and clothes and prepared food for refugees with about 24-48 hours notice. Young people can do odd jobs around the house, baby sit or find other ways to donate money to help these ministries serve the people of Ukraine.
- Start sorting through their clothes, toys and other items useful to refugee peers. The refugee crisis is just beginning. The vast majority of refugees leave their homes and everything they own behind. They literally only have the clothes on their backs. A few Ukrainian refugees are beginning to arrive in the U.S. Lord willing, soon we will be able to ship needed items to at least the Eastern European countries housing refugees. If young people have already sorted through their things they can give away and organized them, they will be able to get them quickly to those who need them.
- Social media. For teens on social media, there are ways they can use their “influencer” status – no matter how big or small. Encourage them to create posts for increasing awareness of the situation, networking for raising funds and collecting items for refugees and creating encouraging posts that will be seen by those in Ukraine. Some may also wish to advocate for certain policies that could benefit those in Ukraine. Encourage them to find scriptures that will encourage those in Ukraine and include them in some of their posts.
- Create original works of art that are obvious in their support of Ukraine. The sunflower is the national flower of Ukraine and their colors are sky blue and yellow. Ministries can use their original art in social media posts, for fund raising, t-shirt designs and eventually notes and cards sent to Ukrainians.
- Make a special effort to befriend refugees and those with relatives in Ukraine. Refugees may be relocated to your area at some point. Your children should be prepared to go out of their way to be loving, friendly and supportive to new students or any peers they currently know who have relatives in Ukraine.
One of the ways to encourage children raised in Christian homes to be active, productive Christians as adults is to fully engage them in ministry from a young age. The horrendous situation in Ukraine gives young people a chance to serve others and share their faith in meaningful ways.