BARTLESVILLE, Okla. — More than four million refugees have now fled the war in Ukraine, escaping to bordering countries such as Poland, Hungary and Romania. That’s where one Bartlesville pastor recently traveled.
City Church Pastor Scott Turner spent about a week in Romania helping refugees who crossed over from Ukraine. City Church in Bartlesville supports children’s homes in southeastern Romania, in an area not far from the Ukrainian border. When they began to take in refugees, he decided to travel there himself with just 72 hours notice to see what he could do to help.
“You could definitely sense the fear and just the anxiety all around them with what’s going on," Pastor Scott said.
He shared videos of refugees entering the country. Many came over on foot and had to ferry across the Danube River.
“It was one of the most heartbreaking things," Pastor Scott. "Of course, knowing the situation. But then, just seeing a mom with three or four kids. They’re all carrying whatever they can carry. They have blankets on them. It was just under freezing.”
Amid the heartbreak and fear, he saw joy and relief as some families reunited.
“I saw a grandma and a grandpa, Ukrainian from some other nation, they met them there," he said. "And they probably hugged out in the cold I want to say for 10 minutes. They were just huddled in this family huddle and you could just see and feel the joy that they had been reunited.”
Pastor Scott said volunteers provided food, blankets, SIM cards and transportation to the refugees. Their children’s homes house anywhere from 20 to 35 refugees each night, mostly women and children. He said the city they’re in also came together to support them.
“It’s heartbreaking knowing that we can meet some needs, but to think of all of the border crossings, this is one small border crossing," Pastor Scott said. "To think of all the other ones in Moldova and Poland and other nations where they’re just pouring out. It’s just heartbreaking.”
Part of his trip was also spent securing transportation and food to send to those still living in Ukraine. He said they’re facing a shortage of supplies there, especially food and water. Some are choosing to stay in their homes no matter the challenges.
“That’s what I kept hearing was, 'We’re staying to defend our homeland," Pastor Scott said. "'We’re not leaving.' And I think for some, absolutely the right thing is to get out and maybe more will follow, but I think it really is more of that, this is our home, we’re going to stay and defend it and what I think we’re seeing, to the death.”
Pastor Scott said his biggest takeaway from this experience is to help in some way, whether it's donating to an organization to help Ukrainians or even just praying for them.
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