By Heather Cameron
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Nathan Elias, Executive Director of Faith Mission (FriedensBote), says the organization is currently looking for a location in Taber that is willing to serve as a drop-off location for Christmas gift boxes and they are also seeking donations to ship into Ukraine and Moldova.
Currently, they can only be dropped off at the organization’s location in Grassy Lake.
“We are very grateful for any support from the smallest donations right through to the biggest,” Elias said. “We firmly believe that God will bless any donation regardless of the amount, what is more important than the amount is the spirit in which it is given.”
Faith Mission, Elias says, sends humanitarian aid to former Soviet states, primarily the Ukraine and Moldova.
Elias says that Faith Mission (FriedensBote) is completely run by donations from supporters primarily in Western Canada and also has a lot of churches from many denominations that support them, along with many individuals and businesses that also give donations.
According to Elias, the organization incorporated in Manitoba in May 1994, and moved into southern Alberta in January 2022. Their home base, Elias says, is currently in Winkler, Man., but they have a few locations where they collect clothing and other items, including Weyburn, Sask.; Foam Lake, Sask.; La Crete, Alta. and Grassy Lake, Alta. Both of the locations in Alberta, Elias says, are also baling the clothes into bales that Faith Mission ships directly out of the country, while the Saskatchewan locations are only collecting the items and they are brought to Winkler or Grassy Lake and baled there so they are ready to get shipped.
“We also have a sister organization in Germany that we work closely with, and they provide us with the contacts in Ukraine or Moldova where our aid gets shipped,” Elias said.
In addition to clothing aid, Elias says that Faith Mission has many projects that they run for people in locations across Ukraine and Moldova, including a firewood project to help people that can’t afford firewood to heat their homes and a children’s camp project in the summer that are both very popular. Since the start of 2022, Elias says that Faith Mission has also sent approximately $450,000 – $500,000 in food supplies from Canada, to those that can’t afford to buy groceries, in containers of aid from Canada.
“We have been involved with sending financial assistance for a number of church building projects, pastoral support, funding a number of drug and alcohol rehab centers and other needs as they arise,” Elias said. “We also sent funds to Germany and FriedensBote purchased food there and trucked it into Ukraine,” Elias said. “This aid all goes directly to established churches at the receiving end and they use the clothing and other items as tools to evangelize to the people of their communities.”
Elias states that at this moment in time, Christmas gift boxes are being distributed right now in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta and getting filled to be sent to the Ukraine for Christmas.
Elias says that back in January, he was able to travel to Ukraine and Moldova and saw first hand the difference that the organization was making in so many lives there, in that they were able to hand out just over 3000 Christmas gifts to children in the Carpathian Mountains region and Moldova. Most of these gifts went to children that would otherwise not have received anything, Elias says, and to see their faces was not something that can easily be described on paper.
“I feel very strongly that we are making a difference and that we could be doing so much more for the needy people out there,” Elias said. “Since the start of 2022, we have moved much more into sending food or funds for food and this need seems to only be growing the longer the war drags out. We have also seen an increase in needs in Moldova due to so many refugees coming through this already poor country and so many people that have so little are being asked to share what they have.”
To contact Faith Mission for more information about their needs concerning Taber or the Christmas gift box program, (FriedensBote), people can email email@example.com or call the office 204-325-4086 or cell 204-647-7466 (MISSION).