“I can’t do everything, but I can do more than nothing.” – Ian Daniel, founder of He Had Compassion
Since the war began in February 2022, Global Aid Network (GAiN) has sent disaster relief to Ukraine to help shed light into the oppressive darkness that has become people’s waking reality. In addition to GAiN Germany and GAiN Netherlands, our ministry has partnered up with a local non-profit organization called He Had Compassion to bring supplies to those who are desperately in need of food, clothing and shelter.
The founder of He Had Compassion, Ian Daniel, went on a trip to Ukraine this past January where he distributed aid alongside his friend Oleg, a pastor from Ivano-Frankivsk. Ian had become acquainted with Oleg before the war started and had been sending him money to support his church in Ukraine. When war broke out, the need for support increased, as Oleg’s church began housing, feeding and caring for a steady stream of refugees.
One group of refugees in particular is called House of 64, and is primarily made up of orphans and widows who come from the occupied east and are in need of all basic necessities. In addition to providing for these refugees, Oleg also wanted to use his church’s key positioning in western Ukraine to move and deliver humanitarian supplies to other locations in Ukraine, but didn’t have the money or vehicles to do so.
In response to this need for practical supplies, money and a transportation system, He Had Compassion was born, with Ian serving as its founder and leader.
“I just said ‘This is what I’m going to do and if anyone would like to support us, I welcome you to do that,’” Ian shared. He went on to say that He Had Compassion now consists of 100 supporters, ranging from church members to friends to business clients. One lady from his church makes handmade dish cloths and sells them by donation each week, giving all proceeds to Ukraine.
GAiN’s COO, Lindsey Schacter, became acquainted with Ian through church. After hearing about the mission behind He Had Compassion, GAiN decided to team up with the organization with the goal of helping Pastor Oleg care for House of 64 as well as transport goods to different cities in Ukraine.
The primary purpose of Ian’s recent trip was to set up a solid system for obtaining supplies and transferring it to the border between Poland and Ukraine. Throughout his time there, he bought materials like sleeping bags, hot water bottles, food and generators, and also obtained two vans and two trailers to transport the supplies. Pastor Oleg picked up the supplies from the border and stored it in warehouses near his church. From there, the supplies were distributed to occupied places in the east, including Mykolaiv, Kherson, Kharkiv and Volchansk.
During Ian and Oleg’s first trip to deliver supplies to the border, however, things didn’t go as planned. Ian shared that they had approximately $72,000 worth (50,000 €) of supplies (including 1,000 sleeping bags) to bring across as well as the van and trailers, yet people at the border would not let them through. They checked their trailer and credentials half a dozen times, even though Ian and Oleg explained that the gifts were from people in Canada and meant to help those in Ukraine that were without food and shelter. Ian, Oleg and his family were stopped at the border for 5-6 hours in freezing temperatures–long enough for Oleg and his entire family to become sick with pneumonia. Finally, the border guards decided to let them through.
“One of the border guards–a great big burly guy– was so pleased with the decision to let us through, he came out to us and said something in Ukrainian and gave me a hug! God put his fingers on the scales and let us in,” Ian recalled with a smile.
Ian, Oleg and his family made it back to Ivano in time for Christmas morning. Since Oleg was sick, he asked Ian to share a message to the church on his behalf. Ian shared about peace, and although it seemed like a risky topic for a congregation in the middle of war, many people wept and were blessed by his encouraging words.
The war has undoubtedly made the atmosphere in Ukraine incredibly bleak. Ian explained that air raid sirens are going off constantly and buildings everywhere are destroyed, with bodies buried beneath the rubble. He shared that three of the places he visited were shelled 36 hours after he left. Yet in the midst of their concern and stress, people have great heart and are extremely thankful.
Ian shared numerous stories about how touched people were by the practical items supplied by GAiN. When he visited a place where supplies had been distributed, people would swarm his van to personally express how grateful they were for the provision of hot water bottles, food, sleeping bags and warming centres to charge their phones and rest. In Mykolaiv, their team was also able to supply 18 cubic metres of firewood to a network of churches that in turn delivered supplies to the entire community. People would come to the church and ask, “Who is this God who hears their cry when they are cold and hungry, and brings firewood to their door?”
After talking with a young woman from a village near Mykolaiv named Anna, Ian also learned that women were in desperate need of feminine hygiene products. With the funds covered by He Had Compassion and GAiN, Anna put together 60 beautiful packages for women in her community, including cream, nail files and other hygiene products. She is planning a meeting where all the ladies will gather at the church and the pastor will give a devotional and pray over them.
Out of their gratitude for the work of He Had Compassion and GAiN, Ian was constantly blessed by a network of people throughout his journey. Wherever he went, people would invite him to stay for a meal and to spend the night in their home. On one occasion in Berlin, a 75-year-old man from the church in the area told Ian and his team to follow him home because he and his wife and their friends had prepared a meal for them. He also insisted that they spend the night, and served them breakfast at 5 am the next morning so that their team could get on the road early. Ian described the meals he received as being “fit for a king.”
“They are giving you some of the last things that they have, and want you to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are changing lives and touching hearts . . . For several days, we didn’t have to pay for a meal or a night’s accommodation. People kept sending us to their contacts,” explained Ian.
GAiN is deeply grateful for the opportunity to be part of this process of delivering much-needed supplies to the places of greatest need in Ukraine. Ian described the system as similar to an underground railroad of Christians helping refugees go one way, with those bringing humanitarian aid going the other way. His testimonies of successfully arriving in the country and witnessing the gratitude and joy of those lives he touched are stunning reminders of God’s faithfulness.
“We just came across story after story of people. You think you’re going to do logistical stuff, but really you’re going to hear and touch people’s hearts, people that God has put in your path. You end up coming home with a collection of contacts with people you want to keep in touch with. That’s what matters the most,” Ian shared.
Ian has just returned back from another trip to Ukraine, disturbing humanitarian aid and providing “Trauma First Aid” for people through seminars and discussion. He has reported that so far, these seminars have had an incredible turnout. People arrive early and the room is always packed! Ian shares that there have been opportunities to pray for people. It is encouraging to hear that people in Ukraine are eager to process what they have experienced and receive emotional support as a community.
We are thankful to all our partners who make these kinds of missions possible. Without your constant support, the stories that stem from our partnership with He Had Compassion and GAiN offices worldwide would not exist.