Episode 046

Polish Aid for Ukraine & Ministering to Refugees

Mar 7, 2022

As hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians flee from the Russian oppression being forced upon them, Polish Christians and Southern Baptist workers are ready to care for them. And Emery and Lillie Polelonema were members of First Baptist Church in Ritchfield, Utah when they became involved in a ministry for the Hmong, who had settled in the area as refugees following the Vietnam War.

Transcript

As hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians flee from the Russian oppression being forced upon them, Polish Christians and Southern Baptist workers are ready to care for them.

“It’s been amazing to see how God has used IMB workers with significant language skills and cultural understanding to minister to these refugees right now,” said Russell Archer, an IMB leader serving in Europe.

Archer has witnessed God’s people leading relief efforts. “Other groups and even local governments are struggling to come up with a plan and find people who can communicate with the refugees, and national Baptist churches and our people are already meeting them at train stations and bus stops as they arrive and jumping right into ministry. Truly, God is at work,” Archer told Baptist Press.

Send Relief President Bryant Wright, says many of those needing help are coming with, at most, a suitcase. Some are only escaping with the clothes they have on, with more refugees on the way.

“Since the invasion, we have and will continue to expand our efforts within the region. We’re thankful for the financial support and encourage everyone to keep praying for the people of Ukraine as they look for safety and help,” said Wright.

IMB President Paul Chitwood has been in the region most of the week. He’s talked to a number of Ukrainians who have been displaced and Polish Christians who have been come to their aid.

In a video message, Chitwood thanked those who have given to the effort. “Because of your giving through a network of partners inside of Ukraine, and all around Ukraine, we were able to respond quickly. We will continue to respond quickly.”

Chitwood and Wright agree the two best ways to help those in need is through prayer and financial gifts through Send Relief to help the effort.

Good News for Today is made possible through our friends at The Voice of the Martyrs, a nonprofit organization that serves persecuted Christians around the world. Founded in 1967 by Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand, VOM is dedicated to inspiring believers to deepen their commitment to Christ and to fulfill His Great Commission — no matter the cost. Find out more and sign up for their free monthly magazine at vom.org/goodnews.

In 1985 Emery and Lillie Polelonema were members of First Baptist Church in Ritchfield, Utah when they became involved in a ministry for the Hmong, who had settled in the area as refugees following the Vietnam War. Emery didn’t know it at the time, but it would provide a strong example of discipleship that would eventually lead him to the pulpit as a layman.

An Arizona native, Emery had moved to central Utah years earlier after getting a job as an engineer with the Bureau of Land Management. At work, he became friends with Ken Kuhlman, a member of First Baptist (since renamed Sevier Valley Baptist Church) who eventually led Polelonema to Christ. Kuhlman and another church leader, Toy Rathashack, mentored Polelonema in the ministry as their wives did for Lillie.

Since then, Polelonema has served in various way in the church, eventually believing God was calling him to more.

A need for pastors led to Polelonema to answer the call to preach. There are others like him, he said, who need mentors to lead them along.

“Churches are scattered far and wide out here,” he said. “Congregations are small and we need all the people to help out.”

Find more stories at BaptistPress.com.

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