One hundred years ago, dozens of small communities of Mennonites in southern Russia (present-day Ukraine) found themselves engulfed by violent conflict. Quickly disease and famine deepened their misery. Remembering their cousins who had settled in the U.S. and Canada, they sent a delegation to plead for assistance. Overcoming enormous obstacles, those who heard the pleas were able to supply first food, then seeds and eventually tractors and plows. Mennonite Central Committee was called into being.

A century later, and again there is violence in Ukraine.

“I wasn’t there when the building was burned, but I watched it online. It all started as a demonstration and then escalated there were many armed people shooting into the building. It seems as if they came from nowhere; they supported setting up a Russian territory in Ukraine. The building caught on fire and people died in that building and in the fighting.”

This is the first person account of Andriy Chaus. The violence he describes forced him and his family to flee, costing him his job. Accustomed to providing for his family, Chaus now needed to reach out to New Life Charitable Fund for assistance. The life-giving help he received included blankets, hygiene kits and canned meat. Their source? Mennonite Central Committee.

A century after its beginnings, in the very place where Mennonites were called to respond to their own cousins and aunts, MCC is now responding not just to Mennonites but to our global neighbours. Neighbours again displaced by violence.

MCC’s recent generosity had a profound impact on Chaus. He says: “We could touch the love in the things they gave us. This love fed us. It wasn’t just words.”

The act of love shared with his family encouraged him to volunteer with New Life. He sensed a call on his life to serve others. And today he is in a leadership role with MCC in Ukraine!

Thanks be to God for love poured into Andriy Chaus. And thanks for the ways that you too receive and share God’s love. May God’s love overflow into another century of MCC ministry, in the name of Christ.

Email Rick Cober Bauman at rickcoberbauman@mcccanada.ca

 

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