A Trail pastor and a member of his congregation will be landing in Poland next week as part of a humanitarian effort to help the many Ukrainians forced from their homes by war.
Pastor Shaun Romano, of Gateway Christian Life Centre and Chris Reid — a Trail native and worker at FortisBC — will be arriving in Kraków on March 16, alongside Lethbridge chaplain Dwayne Schaaf and Faith Woods, from Ontario’s Mission Partners International.
This compassionate mission is just one of 16 trips to Ukraine that Gateway Christian Life Centre has carried out since the church first started doing mission work in Crimea in 1999. That year, the Gateway congregation joined efforts alongside the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada and partnered with a church organization in Kyiv that planted places of worship throughout Ukraine.
In 2006, prior to moving to Trail, Pastor Romano personally connected to a Christian mission in Luhansk Oblast, the easternmost oblast (province) of Ukraine.
Eight years later, the breadth of Christian mission work in the Eastern European nation was transformed as a result of political instability and territorial strife.
“In 2014, when conflict broke out in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea was annexed by Russia, it changed the scope of our mission, from a localized and regional ministry to a national one, as connections and partners scattered throughout the country of Ukraine,” Romano explained.
Because Ukraine is a main country of focus, he says the church is continually raising funds for the cause.
“We have worked with seniors, orphanages, churches, addiction rehabilitation homes and most recently partnered with Clear Vision, a Ukrainian charity, to do eyeglass clinics in villages where there were limited options,” the pastor said.
“Over the last couple of years, we also provided respite ministry to pastors and their spouses from the occupied territory of Ukraine and Crimea.”
In fact, the church had been organizing a father/daughter trip to Ukraine over spring break 2022 but that all changed when the war started on Feb. 24.
With Ukraine war relief now underway, anyone wanting to help can do so many ways, such as donating directly through Gateway Christian Life Centre.
“We partner with an organization called Mission Partners International,” Romano said. “They are a Canadian charity that sponsors seniors, children and pastors in Ukraine and Belarus.”
During this two-week trip to Poland, the group will be partnering with a ministry in Kraków called Slavic Mission in Europe.
The Slavic mission recently acquired a 74-person hostel, so the Trail men and their peers will be working to serve and provide whatever physical help they can to incoming Ukrainian refugees.
“We are also bringing resources to provide food, clothing, first aid kits, medicine, water and other items and sending them into Ukraine from Poland on a daily basis,” said Romano.
“During this trip we also hope to solidify partnerships for future aid.”