Ties to Ukraine propel United Methodists into action

United Methodists Beth Valentine and Ron Louder, who adopted their children from Ukraine, visited the country for many years to run summer Bible camps (pictured here). With war occurring in a country they love, Valentine and Louder are among United Methodists who are raising funds for the people who need help. Photo courtesy of Beth Valentine.
United Methodists Beth Valentine and Ron Louder, who adopted their children from Ukraine, visited the country for many years to run summer Bible camps (pictured here). With war occurring in a country they love, Valentine and Louder are among United Methodists who are raising funds for the people who need help. Photo courtesy of Beth Valentine.

United Methodists are doing their part to help the people of Ukraine, as that nation tries to fight off an invasion by Russia. Many see it as a mandate because of their faith.

Barbara Lane of Peru, Maine, owner of Hot Colors Screen Printing and Design, designed and sold T-Shirts bearing a message to Ukraine.

Beth Valentine and Ron Louder of Hershey, Pennsylvania, whose two children were adopted from Ukraine, are using their contacts in that country to funnel money to people who need help.

A dozen members of Bayside United Methodist Church in New York state meet once a week to pray for the Ukrainian people.

“I'm 65,” Lane said. “From the time I was in kindergarten until I graduated high school, there was something about Vietnam on TV, all of those years.”

News footage of the Ukraine calamity brought back those memories.

“I don't know how it entered my mind,” Lane said. “It could have been an angel tap, or it could have been my (late) father saying ‘Get off your butt and do something.’”

T-shirts

What Lane did was design and print T-shirts that say “… and Maine said to Ukraine, We will pray for peace.” A dove and an outline of Maine are featured, colored with blue and yellow from the flag of Ukraine.

The T-Shirt sales have raised about $6,000 so far. The shirts cost $20 and $15 of that goes to the United Methodist Committee on Relief. The $5 covers the cost of the shirts, and Lane and her employee Kathy Tibbetts donated their labor.

“A lot of people have sent me extra money,” Lane said. “I will probably end up sending actually more than the $15 a shirt because some people paid me for shipping and some people did not, and some people way overpaid me for shipping and some people just simply sent a flat donation.”

One friend ordered two shirts and paid $140 for them.

“(Lane) wanted as much money as possible to go to the people that she was fundraising for,” said Pastor Robin Chaput of Rumford United Methodist Church, where Lane is a member.

“UMCOR to me is the best organization to give to,” Chaput said. “It's linked with The United Methodist Church, and they give 100% of what is brought in to the cause.” Administrative costs of UMCOR are covered through UMCOR Sunday gifts and individual donations.

Ties to Ukraine

When Valentine learned about the invasion, she felt “profound sadness, and just shock, disbelief of what I was seeing on the TV.”

The Hershey, Pennsylvania couple adopted two children, both now 24, from Ukraine. They have made frequent missions trips to the country to run Sunday Bible camps and help out at orphanages.

“The entire experience of being a part of the mission team and meeting people there just drew me back time and time again,” Valentine said. “After my husband and I got married in 1998 and wanted to start a family, we then went back to Ukraine two different times on adoption trips. So that's another connection that keeps me going back.”

Valentine and Louder are in close contact with Raising Hope Ukraine, which works with orphanages, families and churches in Ukraine.

“We maintain pretty frequent contact with the founders, the missionaries Ruslan and Archana Tkachuk,” she said.

The Tkachuks have a U.S. bank account they can access in Ukraine by using their bank or credit cards.

“I don't think at this point they can withdraw cash from ATMs, but they are able to otherwise use funds,” Valentine said.

Weekly prayers

For some congregants at Bayside United Methodist Church in Flushing, New York, the help that Korea got during the war there in the early 1950s influenced them to pay it forward. Bayside is a primarily Korean congregation. 

“I wasn't born at that time, but (many) countries sent soldiers and supported us a lot physically and financially,” said Paula Pyun, a member of Bayside.

“It's our duty (to help the people of Ukraine),” Pyun said. “They are awaiting desperately our support physically and spiritually.”

About a dozen Bayside members gather to pray for the Ukraine people each week, said Angela Hahn, another member of the prayer group.

“Jesus promised if two or more people gathers in His name, He will listen and answer our prayers,” Hahn said.

“I also believe that God can control all political leaders and their decisions. Our prayers can be used as fuel to move leaders' hearts.”

United Methodists and others wishing to provide humanitarian assistance to the Ukrainian people may contribute to United Methodist Global Ministries Advance #982450, UMCOR International Disaster Response and Recovery.

Donations to Ruslan and Archana Tkachuk can be made at the Raising Hope Ukraine website.

Jim Patterson is a Nashville, Tennessee freelance writer. Contact him by email.

This story was published March 31, 2022.