Ukraine Response: Wycliffe Romania

Part of a series of reports about how Alliance organisations in countries bordering Ukraine are impacted by and responding to the crisis.

 

Deaf people are among those who can be forgotten in time of war. Emergency communications don’t always reach them in sign language. Panicked crowds at train stations and borders are not likely to offer much help.

Established in 2016, the Romanian Sign Language Bible translation project consists of individuals passionate about providing the Deaf in Romania with God’s word.

Wycliffe Romania’s sign language Bible translation team knew their Deaf brothers and sisters in Ukraine would be in tremendous jeopardy last week as they tried to leave the country and get to Romania. So the Romanians got in touch with the Ukrainians through cellphone texts and video sign-chats. Then they went to the border to help them cross, and found places for them to stay. Some of the Ukrainians came to Oradea, where the Wycliffe office is located; others went to Timisoara.

Ruben Dubei, Wycliffe Romania’s Director, said this was one of many examples of Romanians mobilising to help the people of Ukraine. The two Deaf communities use different sign languages, but there are enough similarities that they have been able to communicate.

“They were like a group of people—not different groups of Deaf people, but like one ethnic group, helping each other to cross the border and to find places to stay and so on,” Ruben said. “I’ve been surprised to see how well the Romanian people have mobilised in helping the refugees from Ukraine. Especially the Christians are very well mobilsed and organised to help. Many of them are going to the border and taking in refugees, helping them cross.”

Partnering with local churches

Nearly 150,000 Ukrainian refugees were in Romania as of early this week, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Ruben said that while many are passing through Romania on their way to Ukrainian communities in Italy, Germany or Spain, many others also are staying in Romania for now.

Ruben Dubei

Wycliffe Romania members also have been joining the relief efforts of their local churches. The church where Ruben and his family worship has a strong relationship with some churches in Ukraine, especially those with significant Romanian populations. Last week, a Ukrainian pastor contacted them with an urgent need—two orphanages needed a place to send their children immediately. So, 73 children, ages 4 to 18, along with four teachers, are now using the camp facility in Oradea operated by Ruben’s church.

“We don’t know how long they will be here,” he said. We are a small church. Actually the number of church members (50 to 60) is smaller than the number of refugees that came to our camp facilities. So there is a lot to do there.”

As Romanians have heard about this need, they have helped with food and supplies. The children also need things to occupy their time, so programs are being organised, Ruben said.

Wycliffe Romania itself does not have large facilities for refugees, but they do have partners like the mission organisation of the Brethren Church, which operates a mission house in Suceava, close to the Ukrainian border.

“It has become a refugee house now,” Ruben said. “So we have sent donations to them to assist them in this ministry.”

“I think this is something that God is doing in the Romanian church and through the Romanian church to wake them up a bit,” he said. “To give them something practical to do, and to apply all the teachings that they have received over the years. So it is a great challenge, but at the same time I think it does good to our Christian faith to make it more practical, to apply it to our lives and to other people’s lives.”

Prayer needs

Ruben mentioned several ways that Wycliffe Romania needs prayer support:

  • “Even though this may not be part of Wycliffe Romania’s vision, we want to be relevant to the situation and to help refugees coming from Ukraine. We need to look for ways , with the experience and expertise that we have, how we can help with our unique gifting and whatever God has given us.”
  • “Of course, finances are limited, but if we are going to help and donate, to have wisdom on how to do it.”
  • “We are doing trauma healing courses in partnership with the Bible Society in Romania. So this is something that is becoming more and more relevant and will be needed in the coming days.”
  • “Pray that a great unity will come out of this, so that together we will be able to better serve refugees from Ukraine. As an organisation, as a church, everyone is praying for this—for Ukraine and also for Russia. This is how God is uniting us in prayer for this issue.”

 

Wycliffe Romania: wycliffe.ro

Story: Jim Killam, Wycliffe Global Alliance
Photos: Marc Ewell, Wycliffe Global Alliance

Alliance organisations may download and use the images from this article.

 

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