A large ADRA tent welcomes refugees entering Slovakia from Ukraine. Here they find a warm place to rest after their arduous journey. Power banks recharge cell phones, keeping loved ones connected. Cots provide a place to sleep. A kids’ corner stocked with toys, books, and crafts offers solace to children. ADRA staff and volunteers offer comfort and assistance.

Elena sat very still, intently watching the tent entrance. Daniel, an ADRA team member, casually asked her, “Where are you from?” The question struck a chord in Elena’s heart.

ADRA tent welcomes refugees from Ukraine, ADRA Canada

“Mariupol,” she answered, bursting into tears.

Mariupol has felt the greatest impact of the war.

It wasn’t long after the bombardment began that Elena sought refuge in a bomb shelter. By then, her apartment building was without electricity, water, and gas.

“I have lost all sense of time,” Elena shared. “I didn’t know what day it is, and even what time. All we heard was shelling. Nobody could leave the bomb shelter for days. There was very little food and very little water, and it was very cold. But most of all, I was fearful, because this situation simply didn’t stop.”

ADRA tent welcomes refugees from Ukraine, ADRA Canada

After seven days, friends were able to evacuate Elena to their neighbourhood. But when the violence encroached, they decided to flee.

Elena’s escape was long and dangerous. After more than 26 hours, they finally arrived in a small town where her friends had relatives. From there, Elena boarded a train west to Slovakia.

The war in Ukraine has displaced more than 10 million people from their homes. Over 4 million have sought refuge abroad. The remaining millions have fled to other regions of Ukraine.

The millions displaced by the Ukraine crisis are but a portion of the 84 million people worldwide who have been forcibly displaced. Civil unrest, conflicts, and economic catastrophes are tearing lives apart and forcing millions to flee.

Elena is one of those millions. During her conversation with Daniel, her face suddenly changed.

“My child!” Elena exclaimed. Her daughter had driven from Poland to meet her mother. The two tearfully embraced, full of relief and love.

Elena’s journey ended in joy, but what of those who could not escape Mariupol and the millions of others displaced by untold horrors around the world? When will they have a chance for a loving reunion in a place of safety?

“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Rev. 21:3-5, NIV)

Someday, God will right all wrongs and reunite families.

In the meantime? “No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.” (1 John 4:12, NLT) May our love encompass those near to us and those who we may never meet. May God’s love find full expression in our merciful actions towards those in need.