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Fallbrook's North Coast Church helps provide hope to Ukraine

Avalon Hester

Village News Intern

It’s the peak of summer in Fallbrook – school is out, and the days are reaching 93 degrees. By now, parents have probably confirmed and reconfirmed camp reservations and have sent their children for fun days spent swimming, playing capture the flag, and making new friends. Almost 6,500 miles away, within the borders of an active war zone, Ukrainian children are doing the same things – with help from Fallbrook’s own North Coast Church.

When Russia invaded Ukraine in late February of last year, it seemed that the conflict would be over quickly. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia made repeated claims to Ukraine. Conflict began in 2014, when Russia successfully annexed the Crimean Peninsula, a part of Ukraine. It escalated in 2022, with a full military invasion of Ukraine, in what was billed as a quick occupation of the contested Donbass region bordering Russia on the Easternmost spur of Ukraine.

Ukraine has maintained its independence since the fall of the Soviet Union, and while their history with Russia is complex, life in Ukraine was relatively peaceful until the occupation.

Now, entire cities have been destroyed by the war. A Fallbrook missionary for North Coast Church, who has been providing aid in Ukraine, described the constant threat of living in Ukraine today, “There are bombs falling at all parts of the country at all times. People have lost homes, businesses, and their churches.”

This level of conflict comes with massive disruptions of day-to-day life, he explained, “Most kids are only able to go to school 2-3 times per week.”

However, the North Coast Fallbrook Campus has been working to create normalcy and joy for those in Ukraine. In addition to supporting food, shelter, and transportation services in Ukraine, members of the congregation are able to sponsor a Ukrainian child to attend summer camp.

“We started the camp with the idea of having 50 kids participate…we had over 200 kids apply. Of course, people aren’t always able to register, but we don’t turn anyone away,” explained the North Coast missionary.

The road to reach the camp isn’t exactly something out of “The Parent Trap.” As detailed by the missionary, “The camp is close to the Russia border; we have to pass active landmine signs in order to reach it.”

For many families who have lost loved ones through conscription, migration, or lack of contact, sending kids to camp doesn’t feel any less safe than sending them to school. In fact, for those struggling to provide basic necessities for their children, the opportunity to secure not only steady meals and shelter, but also fun, is rare. “We also send ‘blessing boxes,’” explained the missionary, “shoeboxes full of gifts that we try to get to the kids for Christmas and Easter.”

These acts of kindness prioritize something equally essential to food, water, and shelter – hope. North Coast’s missionary has seen it first hand.

“We’ve seen people’s lives turn around,” the missionary shared. “We had a single mother with two kids who came to one of the churches for the safety of the basement. Her children were friends with the minister. She struggled heavily with alcoholism, but has seen a huge improvement since accepting Christ. Her daughter was one of the camp counselors.”

This impact is something that Fallbrook can be proud of. The missionary explained that 95% of the the camp scholarships they are able to provide to Ukraine is funded entirely by donations from the Fallbrook congregation.

North Coast’s Fallbrook campus has a variety of ways to help. If you’re interested in donating, they have a Paypal link: https://www.paypal.com/donate/?hosted_button_id=EPNZ2M74RC35E and accept checks written out to the organization coordinating aid, Peter’s Work, at PO Box 2591, Fallbrook, CA 92088.

They suggest donations of either $125, $250, or $40 to pay for either one Ukrainian child’s camp experience, two camp experiences, or to purchase food for the campers.

North Coast encourages donors to stop by for fliers with more information. Pastor JD Larson remarked “Whether people are interested in joining us for church or helping the people of Ukraine, our doors are wide open.”

 

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