Couple from Ukraine touring continent to gain support

·3 min read

Abe and Diane Bible made a stop in Medicine Hat as part of their cross-continent tour to raise awareness about and garner support for Ukrainians impacted by the Russian invasion.

A former Medicine Hat resident, Abe, along with his wife Diane, have lived in Ukraine for the past 30 years, working as part of the country’s Evangelical Baptist Union. They remained in Ukraine following the Russian invasion, and watched as military attacks wreaked havoc on the country’s infrastructure, economy and people.

While they, and their church’s leaders, recognize the war is ongoing, they are already looking toward the future, as Ukrainian refugees begin returning the country. Specifically, they are hoping to establish renewal projects.

“There are many other organizations who want to try to do something in Ukraine,” Abe told the News. “But most of that is going to be focusing on rebuilding physically. Rebuilding buildings and businesses and whatever. That’s not dealing with the hurt people have.

“People are so discouraged, and they are totally lost. So, how do you begin (to heal from hurt)? We want to focus on renewal. Renewal of individuals and renewal of people. (So), we are planning to develop, in the fall time, 100 centres to help people with long-term trauma care.”

The Bibles, acting on behalf of the Evangelical Baptist Union of Ukraine, are hoping to raise funds for construction of the centres, by touring North-America and sharing their first-hand experiences.

“We’re making presentations about what we intend to do for renewal after the refugees come back into Ukraine, and how we will help them get started with life again,” said Abe.

Not only do the Bibles discuss the war, they also provide information and answer questions about Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.

“Maybe we are old fashioned, but in person you can accomplish more than through a video or letters,” said Abe. “When you are in person, then people ask all kinds of questions (and) when people ask questions, then they are willing to listen and then you make a connection. So, that’s why we felt making a tour is much better.”

Since beginning their tour in April, the Bibles have travelled from Ohio to Seattle, then passed into Canada. They are now heading east, with plans to re-enter the U.S. and tour the southern states later in the summer, before returning to Ukraine in August.

“Every place we have been people are very warm,” said Diane. “They’re very concerned about Ukraine. They’re a little stressed because they don’t know what to believe from the media. So, they’d like to talk to somebody who’s actually been there and is in contact (with people still there).”

Diane is grateful for the support, especially as construction of the planned centres comes with a price tag of more than $1 million.

“Our theme is ‘Share Our Care,'” she said. “Nobody can do it alone; nobody can address the problems in Ukraine by themselves. So, we all have to participate in some way.”

“We’re asking people to do three things,” said Abe. “First of all, to set a personal example by giving $100. Then, share (our message) with somebody else; with a neighbour, a friend, a relative or a co-worker. And then the third thing we are asking is, church people to ask their church leaders to match their gift. And other people, who in their jobs can maybe ask their manager or their colleagues to pull money together in a master gift, because you can’t do it all alone.”

For more information about the Bible’s tour or how to donate, visit renew-ukraine.life.

KENDALL KING, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News

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