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ministry at the ukraine-Poland border

When war erupts we cry out, "God, what can we do?" Right now, there are solid ways to impact this crisis. Mercy Works, a ministry arm of YWAM Tyler, has sprung into action to help. I caught up with Debbie Lascelles, director of Mercy Works, to find out how we can use this window of opportunity before it closes.

Debbie, can you tell me what is taking place right now in Ukraine?

First off, I can tell you this isn't the typical refugee scene. I've done this many times. 

There aren't any UN camps set up because of the number of friends and family members helping out. Working with local ministries and churches in Poland, and other surrounding nations is our focus to provide needed supplies. 

There are 2 million people flooding the borders of Ukraine with numbers growing daily by leaps and bounds. The number of internally displaced people is in the millions as well. 

Ukrainians are going into Poland, Romania, Germany and other nations. Youth With A Mission has 2 main centers in Ukraine, and they are tirelessly serving and feeding people. At one of our centers in the heart of one city, they are feeding up to 1000 people daily.

They risk their lives in the midst of all the bombing to shuttle people to safety while avoiding Russian tanks. 

ukraine train station war

What's one of the biggest needs Ukranian Ywammers have right now? 

Prayer because they are tired and weary. We are providing money and transportation to help with the needs. 

How are we getting money to them during this crisis?

We can wire funds and we bought a van to carry food, blankets, and supplies to the border. We have a border connection who picks it up and distributes the needed supplies. 

There's a group of orphans we have been helping--a caravan of 100 orphans. Pastor Gennady is helping them. He biked across the USA in 2018 to raise awareness of the orphan crisis in Ukraine. 

ywam tyler ukraine refugee

(photo courtesy of Mercy Works advance team)

He adopted a bunch of orphans himself correct?

Yes! He and his family have adopted 35 orphans. They have their own biological children as well. A week ago he and his family fled their town as it was one of the hardest hit. Because of the heavy artillery fire, they drove 19 hours across the country. He and the hundred orphans made it to safety.

He's going back and forth helping and risks his life daily. Recently, he took a video while helping pick up elderly people. Follow his story on Facebook.

How do we give money to help these refugees and orphans?

All monies coming through our website: mercyworks.org will go directly to these needs.

Donate to Ukraine Orphan Rescue

The local news picked up the story and have been sharing your content. How's that affecting your team?

We currently have 135 volunteers calling from around the U.S. and we are trying to coordinate with the people who want to help.  (Read the story on the Tyler News)

So, are people asking to go to the borders to help?

Yes. We will start facilitating teams to go soon. 

How do people get in contact with you to go and help?

Emailing at mercy@ywamtyler.org is the best way. We have an "advance team" over there right now setting things up in Poland and finding new locations for us to serve. 

ywam tyler ukraine refuee people

(photo courtesy of Mercy Works advance team)

Now you are planning to go right away correct?

Yes. I'm planning on taking the first team next week.

Debbie, when things like this pop in our world, what's the thing that's really driving you to get involved?

I like to think it's the Lord and His presence, but this is what He's called us to do. Over the years, we are called to serve our mission and others with practical ways. We always say we have the two-handed Gospel--practical ministry and spiritual ministry. 

As far as this war in Ukraine, it's about these orphans. We know them. We know Pastor Gennady. One of staff, Glenn Price, is over there on the advance team right now. 

ywam tyler glenn price ukraine

(photo courtesy of Mercy Works advance team)

At first we thought we would just help evacuate them, but after finding out everything YWAM was doing in the region, we knew we needed to help their efforts. 

I'd say providing trauma counseling is another big thing we are going to be offering as  something that is really needed during this time. Imagine how these people must be feeling especially the orphans.

Ukraine has 100k orphans due to the poverty created when the Soviet Union collapsed. Most are social orphans and the needs are great. A lot of these refugees are moms with kids. The trauma counseling need is great. (Read more about the orphan crisis in Ukraine here at hopenowusa.org.)

Any donations we receive will be designated toward food distribution, clothing, blankets, and other essential supplies. 


Interviewing Debbie helped me see how great the needs are and now is the time to do something about it. If you want to get involved, the Mercy Works team at YWAM Tyler is ready to help you. 

Perhaps you are reading this and thinking, "I could never do that." We want to encourage you, though getting involved can seem scary at first, God will equip you. We are here to help you serve God with all your heart. It starts with discipleship. Find out when the next training school starts and begin your journey to Know God and Make Him Known. 

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Richard Fish

Written by Richard Fish

Richard blogs with the YWAM Tyler writing team and currently serves in Media Communications at the Twin Oaks campus in Garden Valley, Texas. His water bottle is anywhere but in his hands and walking and texting is in his wheelhouse skill set. You may find him directing a play at CHS or trying to get his life sized John Wayne cutout to stay standing in the office.