CMDA Plays Major Humanitarian Role in The Russian/Ukranian War
On a CMDA Matters podcast in March 2022, CEO of International Christian Medical & Dental Associations (ICMDA) Dr. Peter Saunders and Ukraine Medical Outreach (UMO) President Dr. Jim Peipon shared with CMDA CEO Dr. Mike Chupp about how they responded to the medical needs created by the war between Russia and Ukraine.
Jim Peipon, MD
On a CMDA Matters podcast in March 2022, CEO of International Christian Medical & Dental Associations (ICMDA) Dr. Peter Saunders and Ukraine Medical Outreach (UMO) President Dr. Jim Peipon shared with CMDA CEO Dr. Mike Chupp about how they responded to the medical needs created by the war between Russia and Ukraine. The members of CMDA-USA contributed to the ICMDA Appeal for Ukraine which raised more than $300,000 worldwide. Another $1,000,000 has been given in donations of pharmaceuticals through the Christian Medical Association of Sweden. The Ukrainian people say, “THANK YOU!”
It has now been almost two months since war broke out between Russia and Ukraine. However, the truth is this conflict has been going on for at least eight years. The seeds of conflict were planted and cultivated over a much longer period, perhaps centuries. Biblically, it didn’t take long for a spirit of rebellion to develop in Adam and Eve, throwing the world into turmoil ever since. The turmoil will continue until Jesus returns.
As healthcare professionals, we are dedicated to caring for people with all manner of illness. We often feel overwhelmed when we walk into work and wonder what unexpected emergency awaits us, in addition to all the patients scheduled for that day. When there is a slight break, we reach for our phones to check messages or read a few headlines. Those headlines are filled with sorrow and disappointment. A train station crowded with passengers trying to escape is bombed; the horrors of atrocities committed in Bucha, where men were executed, women and children were raped; and reports of poison gas released in Mariupol, already 90 percent destroyed, and those remaining are without food, water and medicine. In addition, we are handling the care of more than four million Ukrainian refugees who have fled to Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Moldova.
When confronted with the reality of life, or should I say death, where do we find hope? As I was asked about 9/11 and again when the COVID-19 pandemic began and continues, “Where is God in all of this? Why does God allow these tragedies to happen?” First, we should remember that during all these events, we must turn to Christ. He is our hope, and He is faithful to keep His promises. His death and resurrection remind us we can have freedom from our sin and guilt. This provides us assurance for our future. We see the faithfulness of God keeping His promises over time. This gives us a constancy to live in the present. Second, we should tell stories of truth to encourage and motivate us toward showing love to God, showing love to our neighbors and resisting apathy. Countless numbers of stories of God’s mercy and grace have emerged in recent months. Let me share a few.
A month or two before this war erupted, President of the Christian Medical Association (CMA) of Ukraine, Rudi Mihovych called, obviously discouraged. “What am I to do?” he asked, “I am just one person. I don’t have a team.” I began meeting with Rudi regularly to assist him through the disaster.
Two days before the war began, we spoke again. His concern was what would happen if the Russian army attacked and how they would prepare. We exchanged a few basic ideas, such as using the existing network to set up a communications system and using the resources within Ukraine to gather supplies and determine what would be needed.
Dr. Mihovych, A 25-year-old neurology resident, married for only one year and recently became a father, now oversees a warehouse with a staff of 30 volunteers to receive and sort supplies. His team coordinates the transfer of supplies from Poland across the border to their warehouse. When requests are received from churches and hospitals, they are processed; however, not all the needs can be met. Then brave drivers, often using their own cars, drive the supplies to Chernihiv, Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odessa, Dnipro, Zaporizhzha and even Mariupol. This entire team is overwhelmed by the support the worldwide Christian medical community has shown them. Although, Rudi is quick to point out, there is still great need for basic medicines. Hypothyroidism is a major health problem in Ukraine, secondary to illness from the Chernobyl nuclear reactor. Many people have suffered from thyroid cancer and had their thyroids removed.
Other medicines needed include antibiotics, antihypertensives, insulin, metformin, asthma and pain relievers. They have need of basic trauma packs which contain pulse oximeters, bandages and ambu bags. Word has spread about the network and supply chain developed by CMA Ukraine, which is known for being a trustworthy and reliable group. Other Christian groups are providing and sending medicines through them.
Rudi reported, “The generosity of Christian medical organizations around the world, both in prayer and finances, has been a tremendous support.” To date, 40,000 kg or just over 44 tons of medicine has been distributed to more than 70 cities and villages all through Ukraine to 150 organizations, churches, hospitals and Ukrainian military on the frontlines.
Rudi explained, “CMA Ukraine was one of the first groups to coordinate bringing supplies to the frontlines at the beginning of the war.” Those cities were the hardest hit and include Kyiv, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Zaporizhzha and Mariupol. This has been difficult and dangerous work, at times, with many challenges. In one city in north central Ukraine, Chernihiv, the only bridge leading into the city from the south was destroyed, and a boat had to be purchased to get the supplies across the river.
Just during the first week of April, CMA of Ukraine was able to supply medicines to the Russian occupied cities of Kherson and Mariupol. When asked why people are driving to obviously dangerous and unfriendly places, Rudi responded, “Our team is made up of all volunteers. They are not paid and do not want to be paid anything. They do their work for the love of God, the love of their churches and the love of their people.” The situation remains quite fluid, never knowing what will happen or where the next hot spot will be. The stress on the Ukrainian government to meet the needs of both civilians and the military is overwhelming. CMA Ukraine has stepped up to meet some of these challenges. This is possible only through your generosity and prayers.
The question then arises: What is needed now and how can you be of further help?
- Prayer is our first request. The prayer of a righteous person has great power.
- The next and easiest request is for you to continue to send money through CMDA-USA. Visit cmda.org/ukraine to make a donation.
- Another important means of support is the connections CMDA members may have with pharmaceutical, medical supply or transport companies.
- In addition, UMO has organized a group that meets regularly to share information on how to obtain medical supplies, how to transport them efficiently and inexpensively, what documentation is needed and what kind of supplies are needed.
If you would like to be a part of the discussion or can provide help in any way, please contact Jim Peipon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Jim Peipon served as a pediatrician for 20 years before becoming involved in medical missions in Ukraine. He and his wife Marianna began Ukraine Medical Outreach. The goal of this organization is to help train the next generation of Christian healthcare workers and provide hope to Ukrainian families and children living with HIV/AIDS and disabilities. He serves as advisor to the International Christian Medical Association of Ukraine, which brings a Christian perspective to the study of medical care. He leads seminars on the role of faith in medicine, trains healthcare professionals on how to become an effective witness for Christ in the medical context and promotes the improvement of care for children with disabilities and those affected by HIV. He has been married to Marianna for 40 years, and they are blessed with three children and five grandchildren.