You can serve a cup of tea to a refugee, create a website, donate, provide accommodation or simply offer a kind word—it all matters to God, even the smallest act of kindness.
Patrycja, from Poland, usually works with OM’s MediaWorks team based in Austria. In March, she travelled back to her home country to serve with OM in Poland at the Ukrainian border for two weeks.
It’s a cold day in March at a Polish–Ukrainian border crossing, and a young mother with two children crosses into Poland from Ukraine. We welcome them and offer food and a warm place to get some rest. Talking in a mix of Polish, Ukrainian and Russian, we soon find out that her husband is trying to cross the border and join her. After a long wait, the devastating news comes: he has to stay behind. No words are needed; one look into her eyes is enough to see her sorrow and suffering. She takes her children, packs her luggage into the next bus going to a reception centre for refugees, hugs us goodbye and goes into the unknown of a foreign country, with a foreign language, alone.
At the border, we meet many people with similar stories. The OM team provides a warm place for mothers with small children, where they can feed them, change diapers, get warm and talk. We have helped other humanitarian organisations provide food, hygiene products, support and general information to the refugees arriving in Poland.
In the ‘quiet times’ when fewer refugees are arriving, we also talk to volunteers and other workers involved in the relief response. Sometimes, we ask them how they cope with the pain and suffering they see there. Usually, they say they do not want to think about it now but know that the memories will come back later and need to be dealt with. Sometimes they ask us how we cope, and we share about our faith in Jesus Christ. How do I keep the right perspective when surrounded by pain and suffering? How do I cope when I realise that these people have only what they carry with them, no home to go to, and many left their family behind in a war zone?
“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” - Matthew 6:22–23 (ESV)
God encouraged me through this verse and conversations with other team members. Our perspective is so important. It is so crucial what we look at and what we focus on. If we see only the negative, the evil, the suffering and despair and look at the darkness outside through these lenses, the darkness is overwhelming. But we can also look at the Light of the World, fill ourselves with His Word, with His hope and peace. Then, even though there is darkness, we have light that overcomes it; light that we can share with others.
Going to serve at the border was a challenge for me. I am a very introverted and shy person. One evening, in the beginning of my time there, I prayed that God would give me a breakthrough to talk to people. He is faithful. He gave me the breakthrough and strength that I needed to share His love with others. Looking back, I see how God prepared my heart and skills for this time. Previously, I had prayed for an additional ministry area outside of my work in the office. Little did I know that God was preparing me for ministry among Ukrainian refugees.
Returning to Austria, people asked me why I am so happy and why I want to go back and continue working at the border. There is joy that comes from knowing that you are doing what God has called you to do, no matter how small, big, easy or difficult it is. You can serve a cup of tea to a refugee, create a website, donate, provide accommodation or simply offer a kind word—it all matters to God, even the smallest act of kindness.