Swindon Evangelical Church has welcomed a family of 17 refugees fleeing from war-torn Ukraine.
Writing in Premier Christianity magazine, associate pastor Brian Whittaker says it is important for the church to be ‘a beacon of light for those who most need it’.
He said, ‘The family consists of Mum, Dad, and their 13 children, plus Auntie and Grandma. As they are the family of one of our church members, they were able to flee to the UK sooner than most using the Ukraine Family Scheme visa.
‘We prayed through their perilous journey across the border into Poland, and then awaited their visa approval, which required multiple six-hour round trips to the embassy.’
He added, ‘They landed on British soil with just the clothes on their back and a small rucksack. They were collected by a convoy of cars, thankfully equipped with enough car seats for all of the children!
‘The size of the family means that they are unable to stay with the Ukrainian woman in our church. Long-term the council is committed to providing them with accommodation, but in the short-term we face a huge problem.
‘We have had lots of generous offers from the church, but considering all that the family have been through, we didn’t want to split them across multiple homes.
‘Thankfully, someone within our congregation has a large home which is used for Christian retreats and can comfortably sleep all 17 members of the family.
‘This is by no means a long-term solution, or even a mid-term one; the retreat is booked out for several weekends, so they need to vacate the property on those dates.’