After seeing the devastation of the war in Ukraine, many people reached out to help. This help includes members of Bethel Christian Reformed Church, in Sioux Center, Iowa. Working with Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief organization, they began to look for families from Ukraine who wanted to come to the area. Martha Hulshof, a member of Bethel and one of the lead organizers for the church’s efforts, also has a sister who is currently living in Ukraine. She was able to identify families that wanted to come to America and assist Bethel in trying to help those families.
Bethel CRC then began the process of making arrangements for a family to arrive. They purchased a house in the area and furnished it with donated goods. Hulshof said a core group of six people has been leading the preparations. Another team of about 10 is in place to help with various family needs including housing, schooling, and getting a driver’s license and employment. Bethel’s first family arrived on July 14 after being separated when the war first started, and Hulshof said they endured a “horrible journey” before they were able to be reunited as a family.
Other area CRC congregations are also looking to help families settle. Covenant CRC, also in Sioux Center, is working to get a family here according to team leader Verlyn DeWit. They hope to arrive in the area by Aug. 10. The main goal of the churches at this time is to assist people from Ukraine.
Hulshof is grateful that the family that arrived in July is adjusting well to living in Sioux Center. They are taking classes in English and have attended services at Bethel CRC for the past several weeks. One of the sons played drums in a Bethel praise band, Hulshof said. The siblings will be attending Sioux Center Christian School and Unity High School in the fall. Hulshof said the family prays “they can be a blessing and help serve in the church as well. They want to serve God just like we do.”
Maranda Heytsi, Hulshof’s sister in Ukraine, said she is thankful for all the prayers and support on behalf of Ukraine. Her husband is a pastor. She said there is a continued need for prayers and especially a need for food. “There always is a need for support continually,” Heytsi said.