UKRAINE RELIEF: Entering a New Phase

Jim Capaldo

District Executive Minister, Converge Heartland

  • Missions

Converge’s partnership with Ukrainian churches spans more than three decades and is marked by three distinct phases. God has used Converge’s long-standing Ukrainian church partnerships and unprecedented war-time generosity to help resource perhaps the strongest movement of people coming to Christ, throughout the global north, in our lifetime! This article will help you understand the distinct phases of Converge’s Ukrainian involvement as well as how you can engage in this new and exciting phase of Ukrainian ministry partnership. Read more and learn how to get involved. 

Converge’s relationship with Ukraine developed over 30 years ago through an initiative known as Love Lift for Ukraine. This early effort was championed by several former district ministry and missions leaders including Truett Lawson, Skip Hansen, and Donna Sahlin of Converge North Central, Dan Peterson of Converge MidAtlantic, John Cowan of Converge Great Lakes, the late Larry Odle of Converge Heartland, Tania Martin of Converge International Ministries, and Bill Arvan, who has continued much of the original Love Lift for Ukraine emphasis through READ Ministries. Many church-to-church (C2C) partnerships developed during this early post-Soviet period, of which several endure to this very day. These C2C partnerships played a supportive role in helping the Ukrainian church develop into Eastern Europe’s strongest missionary sending force, as Ukrainians prioritized the sending of Russian-speaking ministers into the unreached and unengaged people groups of Central Asia and Siberian Russia. 

Though humanitarian aid played a limited role in the developmental phase of Converge’s Ukraine partnerships, in 2022, when all-out war began, providing humanitarian assistance to Ukrainian church partners became an urgent focus. At this time, Converge already had many relational boots on the ground due to existing seminary and C2C partnerships. As a result, Converge efforts, together with the ministries that developed out of the former Love Lift for Ukraine initiative, such as READ Ministries and Potential Endeavors, have received well over $2,000,000 for Ukraine relief!  This unprecedented generosity, given by Converge congregations, individuals, and closely networked partners, has resourced front-line Ukrainian churches for providing humanitarian aid to people displaced by war.

After several recent site visits and conversations with Ukrainian Baptist Union leaders, it is clear that Converge’s relationship with Ukraine is entering a new and exciting phase. Converge’s Ukraine Consortium Leadership Team, comprised of Pastor Rob Paterson (New Hope Community Church of Loudonville, OH), Dr. Dan Peterson (representing Converge MidAtlantic), Rick Post (President of Potential Endeavors), Bob Marsh (representing Converge International Ministries), and Jim Capaldo (Regional President of Converge Heartland), recognizes this new phase as authentic fruit from Converge’s strong humanitarian support. As U.S. churches and individuals have sacrificially given to support the Ukrainian church’s humanitarian efforts, Ukrainian Baptist congregations have been resourced to sacrificially serve and meet the felt needs of their suffering and displaced countrymen. Oleksandr Dimov, the Regional Presbyter of the Odesa Oblast stated, “Our churches understood that if they did not rise to meet the needs of their fellow Ukrainians in this hard hour, then after this war, Ukrainians would have no need for their churches.”  

Our Ukrainian ministry partners have indeed risen, in Christ’s name, to serve their people and nation. The result has been perhaps the strongest wave of people coming to faith in Christ, throughout the global north, in our lifetime! As such, there is an unprecedented opportunity and need to start new and missions-minded churches across Ukraine. Having prayerfully explored and examined these realities, the Converge Ukraine Consortium Leadership Team has established a three-year vision entitled, “REBUILD UKRAINE; Churches Helping Churches Fulfill the Mission of Christ in Ukraine and Beyond.”  This rebuilding phase needs both individual and congregational involvement. There is an especially great need for developing church-to-church (C2C) partnerships focused on new church plants. You are warmly invited to participate!

To learn more about how to pray and get involved in the Rebuild Ukraine vision, please join us on Zoom at our next Ukraine Consortium meeting on February 4, at 4PM CST.

In the meantime, please contact with any questions regarding the Ukrainian Consortium efforts or new C2C partnerships.

Jim Capaldo, District Executive Minister, Converge Heartland

A graduate of Baptist Bible College, Western Seminary, Novosibirsk State University and the University of South Dakota, Jim served 11 years establishing a church planting movement among the formerly unreached Tuvan tribe of Siberian Russia. Besides church planting, he has pastored at ChangePoint Church in Anchorage, Alaska, and at Central Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, facilitates StratOp retreats, serves on various ministry boards and regularly instructs for the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course.

Additional articles by Jim Capaldo