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Faith & Service

Serving with Great Expectation

By Steven Gillum, March 15, 2023

Liberty Sends Team, Supplies to support Ukraine relief efforts

“Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.”

William Carey, an English Christian missionary, said this statement in Northampton, England, in 1792, and I believe it still resonates today among Liberty University’s administration and students.

Each week, I see and experience this distinct passion from Liberty students who expect great things from God and attempt great things for God through their passions, careers, and outreach to others in need.

Feb. 24, 2022, will be a day we remember. Russia invaded Ukraine, causing tens of thousands of deaths on both sides of the armed conflict and pushing Europe into one of the biggest refugee crises since World War II. Since then, over 8 million Ukrainians have left their country and entered other nations like Romania, Moldova, Poland, and the Czech Republic. Over 5 million have been internally displaced, still trying to survive inside their own country.

Shortly after the invasion, under the leadership of Liberty Interim President Jerry Prevo, the Liberty University Fund for Ukraine’s Future was established for faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends of the university to give toward the overwhelming relief efforts. This fund would provide humanitarian assistance for Ukrainians in need. (To donate, visit Liberty.edu/Ukraine.)

During the early fall of 2022, LU Serve quickly identified three critical organization partners to help Liberty use the funds to ship a container filled with clothes, shoes, tools, hygiene kits, medical equipment, and other essential supplies. World Help in nearby Forest, Va., arranged the shipping of the container that would be received by Greater Europe Mission (GEM) in Bucharest, Romania.

In Romania, the Ukrainian Bucharest Church 22 (UBC 22) network is ministering to Ukrainian refugees and sends weekly convoy vans of supplies into Ukraine, at significant risk and peril to their own lives. Many convoys must travel through inclement weather, navigate treacherous roads, and endure dangerous stops close to the armed conflict to get aid to those in need.

The outreach refugee ministry of UBC 22 is difficult work. By November, many of the staff and volunteers were depleted of physical energy and emotionally and spiritually drained.

Dwight Poggemiller, a 1992 Liberty alumnus and missionary with GEM in Romania, was confident that a passionate group of students for God in the LU Serve Now program could provide much-needed energy and volunteer assistance alongside UBC 22.

With great anticipation, LU Serve Now sent a team of students and a few staff in late January to be the hands and feet of Jesus in Romania. The students traveled there with a common purpose: to serve alongside the UBC 22 network and minister to the Ukrainian refugees together.

When the team initially arrived, the UBC 22 staff was overjoyed that volunteers were there to help all week. What made an impression on them was that these Liberty students were willing to miss classes all week, fly across the globe, and do whatever was asked of them.

The team tours the city of Bucharest. (Photos by Matt Reynolds)

Alumnus Dwight Poggemiller, a mission worker in Europe, talks to the team about humanitarian relief efforts. (Photos by Matt Reynolds)

When I arrived with the team one morning at the UBC 22 center, so did a young Ukrainian man with his mother. Everything they owned was in a black garbage sack he carried.

Their city was struck by heavy artillery, and they spent much of their money to get to Bucharest to find refuge. UBC staff and Liberty students gave them a hot meal, offered a warm shower with clean water and a temporary place to sleep, and washed their clothes and gave them new ones to wear.

Students wash the vans used during dangerous convoys into Ukraine.

Ministry to refugees can be unpredictable, and each day has the potential to look different than the previous one. Liberty students were flexible and served with grace and excellence, even in frigid weather throughout the week. Tasks included sorting and organizing clothing donations, light construction, painting, cleaning, preparing meals and serving them to refugees and staff, playing with children, and washing the convoy vans.

When I think of how the students served, I can see them living what Jesus said in Matthew 25:40: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

Pastor Nelutu Iubas leads a main UBC 22 church in Bucharest that has become a base of operations for the network. As a leader with UBC 22, he was greatly encouraged by the donation of the container and the Liberty students’ efforts to help them move forward in their relief efforts.

But the needs were not only in Bucharest, as the group traveled over an hour away to do similar activities at a refugee camp. Students spent time listening to the stories of the Ukrainians as they served them by ministering to their physical and emotional needs and sharing the good news of Jesus.

The students not only felt the physically harsh winter that many Ukrainians feel as they seek refuge from the horrors of war but also the emotional and spiritual burden of so many. The students’ resolve to keep serving with joy and love was inseparable from their faith and trust in God. The impact the experience has made on their lives is priceless, and they will be forever changed by UBC 22 and the Ukrainian people.

Students pray with members of the UBC22 network who deliver supplies into the war-torn areas of Ukraine.

On March 3, Liberty University students, athletes, coaches, faculty, and staff spent one day packing another container full of 270,000 meals that UBC 22 will take into Ukraine to minister and share the love of Christ. The convoys will again endure hardship and danger to bring food that the Liberty community packed and to share Christ’s love.

That is why we attempt to do great things like this at Liberty University. We want to love those no one else will love, serve those no one else will serve, and risk what no one else will risk for the sake of the Gospel.

Martin Luther King Jr. was right when he said, “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

A love for Jesus and Ukraine compels Liberty to expect great things from God and attempt great things for God.


As Director of LU Serve within the Office of Spiritual Development, Gillum leads the strategic partnerships and special projects that help develop students to serve as Christ’s ambassadors worldwide.

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