East Texas missionaries providing housing, relief to Ukrainian refugees in Poland

Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 8:50 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 29, 2022 at 3:40 PM CDT
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USTROŃ, Poland (KLTV/KTRE) - A team of 25 missionaries from the East Texas-based Youth With A Mission, or YWAM, are on a two-month trip to Poland, providing outreach and immediate aid to Ukrainian refugees who have fled violence in their home country.

Josh and Meg McClung are leading an outreach team through MercyWorks, a YWAM ministry. This is the family’s second trip to Poland this year, having already spent three months assisting refugees in the Spring. Weeks before the war in Ukraine broke out, the McClungs and their two kids were in Poland exploring opportunities to serve.

“Through the times we were in refugee centers, train stations, bus stations, we had this longing to create something more sustainable and long-term where we could help people individually and help people find a sustainable life after leaving Ukraine, if there wasn’t an opportunity to return,” Josh said.

After coming home to East Texas, they returned to Poland in late March to provided food, transportation, and housing to Ukrainians crossing the border.

“We will be serving around Poland along with traveling to Kyiv to build temporary housing for individuals who have lost their homes in the war.”

The McClungs will be joined by other families who have completed discipleship training at YWAM’s ranch near Lindale. Families from around the U.S., Switzerland, Germany, and the Netherlands have just completed the 12-week preparation program and are now assisting refugees in Poland.

Since early September, YWAM has been operating in the small town of Ustroń, located more than 200 miles south of Krakow, near the border with Czechia, formerly known as the Czech Republic. The ministry’s plan is to establish a permanent base here.

YWAM already operates around a thousand locations in more than 180 countries, with approximately 18,000 staff and volunteers.

(Source: KLTV/KTRE staff)

More than six months since the start of the war in Ukraine, the MercyWorks mission is adapting to constantly-changing needs on the ground.

“As ministry emphasis is shifting from the immediate care of refugees who rapidly fled Ukraine to one of supporting them in the various neighboring countries, the need to minister in deeper ways among fewer people rather than in a wider way with the multitudes takes priority,” the ministry posted online.

East Texas-based MercyWorks is setting up an 11-bedroom facility to house refugees in southern...
East Texas-based MercyWorks is setting up an 11-bedroom facility to house refugees in southern Poland.(Source: MercyWorks)

Their first major project is focused on setting up an 11-bedroom facility to house refugees. Josh McClung says the $250 thousand property was paid off through donations, grants, and fundraising.

The refugee center’s first two families moved in over the last few weeks. However, there’s still renovation work to be done. The kitchen needs to be modified to accommodate serving a larger number of people.

This former hotel in Ustron, Poland is being converted to house Ukrainian women and children...
This former hotel in Ustron, Poland is being converted to house Ukrainian women and children seeking refuge from the war.(Source: MercyWorks)

“A lot of our efforts now are in how do we best steward these families as they’ve come out of this crisis situation. How do we walk through trauma, healing, counseling, anything we can do to come alongside them as they prepare to move on to whatever their next stage of life is,” McClung said.

Another priority is securing sheltering for Ukrainians before the cold winter months arrive. The missionaries are planning to travel across the border into Ukraine to assist other YWAM groups there. The YWAM base in Kyiv has been fundraising for prefabricated homes that cost around $6,500.

“Because you’ve got families and elderly individuals who are still living in their property that’s been destroyed. So they’re basically living in sheds or whatever rubble they can find on their property,” McClung said.

The modular homes will be installed on the residents’ cleared land.

“It will give them heating, give them some shelter, give them what they need before the winter before that arrives.”

The McClung family is looking at permanently relocating to Poland once the initial two-month mission is complete.

Anyone interested in volunteering with MercyWorks or ministering to refugees can contact YWAM at mercy@ywamtyler.org.

KLTV & KTRE anchor Lane Luckie is traveling with a delegation from the City of Tyler to its sister city in Poland to get a closer look at ties between the two communities and the impact of citizen diplomacy. Click here for more coverage.

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