Many of us have felt a burden for the immense suffering caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. That is why the Outreach Team has decided to devote this year’s Holy Week gift to L’Arche International, which is providing shelter and aid to people with and without disabilities fleeing the violence.
Many of you at Incarnation are already familiar with L’Arche International. We largely have the wonderful Eva-Elizabeth Chisholm, Bruce Weaver, and members of the local L’Arche communities in South Arlington to thank for that familiarity. It is an organization that, in its own words, “creates communities with a culture of shared lives between people with and without intellectual disabilities, from which we can work together to build a more human society.” The ministry expressly fosters a spirituality of encounter and solidarity.
Even in times and places where peace and stability hold, this kind of organization bears a unique witness to the tender compassion of our God, who came to live in solidarity with all people, in the full range of human experiences. It operates under the firm conviction that people without intellectual disabilities have much to learn from people with those disabilities. That is, the physical, emotional, and spiritual benefit of living in these communities runs both ways.
So how is L’Arche helping people in or near Ukraine? I’ll let them describe it:
Imagine what it is like to leave everything behind and to try to provide care for someone with a disability as you flee,” Vice International Delegate Manca Kastelic said. She oversees L’Arche communities in Europe and the Middle East, which have banded together to offer support.
As fighting escalated, L’Arche Ukraine communities in Lviv and Ternopil opened their doors to those fleeing war in the east. L’Arche homes in Poland and Lithuania, too opened their doors for those who made it beyond the border and need shelter.
What has evolved is an improvised chain of support helping people with and without disabilities. Assistants, Board members, friends, and others from L’Arche Poland work together to offer shelter, meals, donated goods and meeting other needs.
A L’Arche Poland van traverses the nearly three-hour drive from the closest L’Arche community to the Ukraine border with donated supplies for refugees. A similar L’Arche community van brings people living with disabilities from the Lviv L'Arche community in Ukraine who continue on to safety in the van from Poland as it returns home.
L'Arche was similarly involved in aiding refugees after the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and is experienced in this kind of work; the below video tells one story from that time.
Because of the urgency of this particular moment, Incarnation is opening up the donation page early for our Holy Week outreach offering to L’Arche International. You can give on our website now through Easter (select "Lent Offering").
At Incarnation, we love that an organization God has already brought into our church life is providing critical services to the most vulnerable people in one of the most violent conflicts in the world. As they say above, it is an improvised chain of support. They can use all the help they can get to operate in this most chaotic of situations.
Please join us as well in praying for this war to end, for the wounds it has caused to be healed, for lives to be saved, for homes to be rebuilt, and above all, for the world to know the saving power of God in Jesus Christ.
- David Griffin
[Note: Curious why we give money in this way? Read this rationale for charitable giving.]