BERNE, Ind. (WANE) – A group of religious leaders from Indiana have plans to host Ukrainian refugees in the Hoosier State.

On Tuesday in the Filling Station, a coffee shop in Berne Indiana, a group of religious leaders from the area gathered to speak about “Heroes for Ukraine.”

The Filling Station in Berne, which hosted the meeting (WANE 15/Ethan Dahlen)

Heroes for Ukraine is a program designed to provide temporary respite for Ukrainian families to rest, heal, and escape the ongoing war. 

They have their eyes set on welcoming 100 Ukrainian mothers and children while the conflict is ongoing in their home country.

“This isn’t a refugee resettlement, it’s not a refugee plan for them to settle here in Berne or Fort Wayne. This is to equip them before going back. Almost everyone I’ve talked to really wants to go back. We’ve offered to bring people here, but they’re turning down the offer… they want to return to their cities as fast as possible, this is really a one year plan,” remarked Florian Steciuch. 

Steciuch is one of the three helping to organize Heroes for Ukraine. He is himself a Ukrainian and has done ministry in the country since 1994. In tears he asked for the prayers of everyone for not just Ukraine, but also the Russian’s who have been dragged into the conflict. 

Steciuch also noted that men weren’t a part of the program here in Indiana, stating “Men between 18 and 60 are not allowed to leave, they’re expected to serve… so the people that are typically coming over here are young mothers, with young(er) children. “

The other two organizers Rod Penrod and Mike Webb expressed the emphasis on helping these young women and children heal. 

“Part of our program is to equip the mothers to go back with strength, with hope, with vision to rebuild their communities… We can help them, disciple them, and encourage them in their faith.. We’re trying to give them a future and a hope,” Penrod said.

From left to right; Webb, Steciuch and Penrod (WANE 15/Ethan Dahlen)

The group also says there are a number of spiritual dynamics at play in their work, and their goal is to evangelize, discipline, equip, and send the refugees back stronger Christians.

A member of one of the involved churches, Logan, also said that his youth group was making efforts to welcome the refugees. 

Everyone involved hopes that their efforts will ease the burden of those coming to Indiana, and those in Ukraine alike, knowing that their family is in safe hands abroad. 

The group is making fundraising efforts to bring refugees over and financially support them, and their host families while they stay. 

Poster describing Heroes for Ukraine’s mission and ways to help (WANE 15/Ethan Dahlen)

You can support their mission by emailing the group at askflorian@gmail.com. They’re looking for both funds and partners in their efforts.