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Helping Ukrainian Refugees through Ellel Hungary

By Tamas & Angela Kovacs, Directors of Ellel Hungary

At the beginning of this year, we had a strong sense that God had been preparing us for something intense and significant during the quiet months of the 2-year Covid lock-down season. We felt that this year would be a shift in season. Who could have known that it would be such a devastating event as the war in Ukraine that would, in essence, usher Úr Rétje* into a chapter of its calling that we always knew about but have never witnessed before.

(*Ellel Hungary’s Centre and land, the Hungarian name of which in English translates as “The Lord’s Meadow”.)

Originally The Lord’s Meadow was purchased by a Hungarian Reformed professor, who had a vision of establishing a place for healing of war widows. Also, we recently found out that the ‘Swiss House’ style building that we currently use for housing the refugees was originally built for, and used by, refugees in Switzerland before it was donated to Ellel Hungary. It is truly remarkable to be a part of this story that the Lord is writing. We feel that we are in the exact spot where God wants us to be, at the exact time in history, just in place for such a time as this.

. . . we have been able to welcome refugees for a night, for a week or for even longer periods of time.

The war in Ukraine has now been raging for over 2-months. Our centre is near the capital of Budapest, 3 hours’ drive from the Ukrainian border. Some refugees arrive with cars, we go and meet others at the border and bring them to Úr Rétje. In the last 2 months we have been able to welcome refugees for a night, for a week or for even longer periods of time. Some only stay for a night, enroute to Western European countries as they flee from Ukraine. Some come indefinitely, but after a few days find out that they have friends and relatives in various places, so they move on. And there are those who stay with us for longer periods, waiting for visas, paperwork or generally for the direction of the Lord for the future of their life.

Van we use to transport refugees from Ukrainian border into Hungary

What we have experienced is that every person arrives with a different story; no two cases are the same. Every one of them has different circumstances, different needs, different challenges. Because of your financial support, we have been able to take care of them and support them in a way we could not have done without you. Most of the refugees have arrived with a tiny backpack or literally just the clothes on their backs. They need financial help, so we have been able to give them money and take them shopping so that they could buy whatever they were lacking. We also had plenty of clothes donated to the centre so we set up a second-hand storage of clothes: this was such a blessing even for the families who only came through us for a night – they could pick and choose items for themselves. Lately, we have been doing many trips to clothing and shoe stores, visiting the GP for medication prescriptions, making many car trips to the pharmacy, and going to the opticians for glasses. We have been regulars at the immigration office, our team queueing for long hours with the refugees to help them sort out their official status.

We find that God is using our centre to take care, first and foremost, of the physical needs of the refugees and we are trying to bring back some sense of normality into their daily lives. Indeed, this is what we see Jesus modelling to us during His ministry. He was always sensitive to the people’s physical needs beside ministering to their deeper needs. We are experiencing that as we take care of and nurture the refugees needing help. God is setting up divine moments where we can minister His healing and restoration to them.

God is setting up divine moments where we can minister His healing and restoration to them.

We see that there is healing benefit to their human spirit if they have tasks to occupy them, so that they feel useful and productive in this difficult season. So, most of them help around the centre with various small tasks which, in return, is a blessing for the Hungarian team.

We also see that it is helpful for them if they have the means to take care of themselves, just to have the normality of doing daily tasks. Currently most of our guest rooms have no access to a kitchen area, so we are using appeal funds to build an extra kitchen area in our summer building that the refugees will be able to use.

Looking ahead

As well as the practical refugee work we now provide, we have a strong sense that the Lord is leading us to organise healing weeks specifically with the focus of restoration and healing for those affected by the war. Currently millions of Ukrainians are displaced all around the world. Most of them have no hope or future prospects. So, we feel that God wants to gather them and bring them to himself for healing. With your support we will be able to sponsor them, hosting them free of charge, perhaps even supporting their travel expenses to The Lord’s Meadow. We are in the process of organising the first healing week in June.

Thank you for considering sowing into God’s kingdom this way.

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