But the gospel can heal what sin has torn apart. There is a huge divide between Russia and Ukraine, but the grace of Christ is powerful to cross it. Natalie wrote down her testimony for the refugees so that the gospel would be among the first things they received in Budapest. She witnesses this way: “Dear Friend, we can have hope for the future. Only God can give such comfort. I call Him Father because I know whom I believe. I love His Son because He died for my sins on the cross. I am forgiven. . . . Do not fear. Give Him your worries and sleep well tonight. He knows your pain, your thoughts, and your fears. He will take care of you.” And she writes also to the Russian people: “I want to love you, no matter what, with the love of Christ. You are part of my story; we were born in the same country.” This is the gospel in action. The gospel removes hatred and gives love. The grace of Christ brings unity where there was once division. Through faith in Christ, Christians are one. This faith-induced unity is on display in the church.
Furthermore, the gospel gives hope. I wrote briefly about the hardships of those who stayed in Ukraine. They live day by day with shortages of food and fuel. They are in constant danger. But as Christ urged us, we are not to be troubled. The war might have made lives harder, but it did not change the most important fact of life: we are worshipers of the triune God. Worship is the pinnacle of the Christian life; it cannot be set aside even during a war. Air raid sirens might howl, but they cannot hinder Christians gathering for worship. And as the Word is preached, there is hope. The reports we receive from our churches in Ukraine are full of thankfulness—thankfulness that God has still preserved them, that they could worship and enjoy Christian fellowship, and that instead of being passive, they were able to serve and organize a summer camp for teenagers. The hope of the gospel overcomes the darkness of war.
Where there is faith and hope, the deeds of love will grow. The one million refugees who entered Hungary created an immense need, and our churches—like many others—opened their buildings for the needy. Our small property in Budapest hosted more than eighty people during the first two months, most of whom were Christian brothers and sisters. Many who fled from the horrors of the war found shelter and even gospel hope. Our Hungarian and Romanian churches together with the generous support from churches abroad stood for this cause collectively. Amid all the dark events, this unified eagerness to help testifies to the unity we have in Christ and the love that we have for one another. As Jesus promised, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
Indeed, people have started noticing the love. A man from our church was asked to transport some refugees from one railway station to another in Budapest. It was a group of sixteen—three adults and thirteen children. They hadn’t known each other before the war, but the conflict brought them together. Our man stepped up to greet one of the ladies who knew a little English. With few words and much body language they started to interact. The refugees were exhausted, so our man told them that he would take them somewhere to eat. “But we have no money,” the lady said. “I will take care of it,” our man assured her. During the lunch, the lady shared their heart-wrenching story. But when they said goodbye to each other, the lady concluded: “I cannot understand how people can say that there is no God. Our experience tells that God is there, loves us and helps us.” Despite the innumerable sufferings they went through, there was an even stronger beacon of light that shone through the darkness: the love of Christ through the good deeds of His body, the church. The way this group was helped by Christians left a stronger imprint on the soul of this lady than all the sufferings combined. In this way, our deeds may help people glorify God (1 Peter 2:12).
Faith, hope, love–—the gospel triad has become visible in the relief ministry to the Ukrainian refugees. But ultimately, they point us to the Christ of the gospel, and they show us that whether in war or peace, He is our greatest treasure.