10 April 2022
Sunday, April 10, 2022
It was only 45 days ago that Russia’s latest invasion into Ukraine began.
Now, six and a half weeks later, thousands of Ukrainians and Russians are dead. While technology and the application of different ways to engage in combat have developed over the years, the three words uttered by General William Tecumseh Sherman on June 19, 1879, ring as true today as they did 143 years ago, “War is hell.”
One of the rings of hell created by war is the displacement of innocent people. In this case, citizens, who, for no reason other than Ukraine is their home, have been forced to leave. To leave everything that represents home. To flee with only a few belongings know they may never return. The home they built. The school they attended. The church where they worshiped. The park where they played. The bed where they slept. Gone. Forever.
We have seen the images and cried until we thought we had run out of tears, but then more came. Through the veil of our cries, we cry out, “I feel so helpless. What can we do?”
Several groups of people within North Carolina have begun to help, and WRAL News is privileged to join them.
Photojournalist Chad Flowers and I are traveling with Baptists On Mission to Warsaw, Poland. The organization has begun rotating teams of disaster relief volunteers in and out of Warsaw to help refugees who are temporarily living at a local seminary. We are honored to travel with the team and document their work.
In the past few weeks, some 300,000 refugees have been taken in by the Polish people and their government. The swelling of the country’s population by this mass human absorption has, according to Warsaw’s mayor, put the capitol city “on the brink.”
While the small team of North Carolina Baptists cannot solve the entire problem, they are dedicated to assisting as many as possible with whatever needs they can.
Where there are language barriers, they will help with English.
Where there are needs for cleanliness, they will clean.
Where there is hunger, they will feed.
Where there is anxiety, they will pray and not proselytize.
Where there is fear, they will offer hope.
As I prepare for this assignment, the irony of history envelopes my emotions. I was in Krakow and Warsaw in 2018. We spent days learning the history of this beautiful country Hitler tried to destroy.
Standing in the death camps of Birkenau and Auschwitz, I heard and read story after story of refugees who were systematically slaughtered. We also heard some stories of survival.
Now, many of the survivors of those Holocaust survivors are taking in refugees from a country once caught up in another war that was not always kind to the Jews.
That type of hospitality wrapped in forgiveness is simply beyond the reach of many of us who live in a space divided more by the outcome of a basketball game than the admonition and plea to love one another.
Chad and I will be reporting on WRAL-TV, WRAL.com and social media for the next week. We hope you will join us for this journey.
During this time, and well beyond, I ask you remember all souls worldwide who are suffering through no fault of their own, in particular the people of Ukraine.