JOPLIN, Mo. – A Joplin-based missionary group is dodging invading Russian forces in Ukraine while delivering humanitarian aid to the war-torn country.
Good News Productions International (GNPI) is an organization committed to bolstering the media presence of missionary groups across the globe. Founded in Africa in 1969, GNPI currently has 25 regional centers and nomadic teams in 16 different countries, including Ukraine.
According to GNPI Executive Director Mike Schrage, the organization’s group is based just outside of Ukraine’s capital city, Kyiv, which has been under siege for over a week.
Schrage has spent significant time in Ukraine in the past and has stayed in close contact with his team members since the Russian invasion began.
“They have been hunkered down for the first 10 days,” Schrage said. “They were in a pantry portion of an apartment which has cement on three sides. So, it serves more as a bunker. They finally decided that Kyiv was getting too dangerous, and the director is 62. He, his wife and younger daughter left the rest of their family and drove their vehicle to Poland. They felt they could be better strategically used for their team if they were outside of Ukraine.”
Schrage said that while the director, his wife and daughter are putting their efforts toward Ukrainian refugees fleeing to Poland, the rest of the Ukraine group stayed to continue their efforts near Kyiv.
Ukraine has a strong Christian influence, Schrage says, and he believes GNPI members have felt the direct result of people around the world praying for the group’s protection. He said he has seen photos of missiles that hit the ground but never exploded, and even heard stories of Russian soldiers not firing on Ukrainian citizens when they were forcefully instructed to do so.
Additionally, as soon as the Ukraine group’s director and his family arrived in Poland, they were informed that the village they had just spent the night in en route to crossing the border was largely destroyed by a Russian missile attack.
“There are also stories about tanks that have run out of gas just before they were ready to fire,” Schrage said. “There’s these protective miracles that are happening.”
Many of GNPI’s full-time workers in Ukraine are currently relocating from bigger cities to smaller villages and towns to avoid enemy convoys and missile strikes.
Schrage said he is currently talking to another foundation in Joplin to raise $10,000 to send to the GNPI leaders in Ukraine to continue financing the group’s efforts.
Those interested in learning more about Good News Productions International and its work overseas can visit their website here.