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Ukraine refugee effort by Latter-day Saints is expanding. Here’s how many the church has helped this year

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Sasha and Olga Zabrodina fled Ukraine and found refuge in a home of fellow Latter-day Saints in Hannover, Germany last March.

Sasha, 2, and his mother Olga Zabrodina fled Ukraine and found refuge in a home of fellow Latter-day Saints in Hannover, Germany. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints met with Ukrainian refugees, including Zabrodina and her three sons, in Hannover on Nov. 6, 2022.

Simon Jones, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

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One Ukrainian mother wanted to stay and help her country while her husband fought for its freedom last March.

But as she prayed, she knew she had to leave, writes Church News editor Sarah Jane Weaver. And so the woman crossed the borders of five countries in 11 days with her three sons, elderly father, sister and two nieces.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles met with Olga Zabrodina in Germany on Sunday and consoled her when she choked up talking about her concern for her husband and how she misses him.

“The church is all we have now,” she said.

The moment is captured in a new video released by the church on Tuesday. Tucked away at the end of a video released Tuesday was this updated information about the church’s efforts to help Ukrainian refugees. To date, the conflict with Russia has displaced 18% of Ukraine’s population, more than 7.8 milllion Ukrainians have been displaced.

“In 2022, the church has assisted more than 1.6 million refugees and internally displaced persons through more than 100 projects in 32 countries throughout Europe.”

Church leaders asked members in congregations across Europe to open their homes to shelter refugees until they could establish themselves.

“The Saints taking them into their home, it’s the gospel at its very best,” Elder Holland said after meeting with Ukrainian refugees and the German members who took them in last winter and spring. “It’s the gospel in action. And I’m moved to tears by their faith, and by the goodness of these German Saints, who’ve taken them into their homes and given them a new opportunity.”

The video reminded me of Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé’s talk last April at the annual International Society conference at BYU.

“Imagine the transformation that would occur in the world,” he said, “if every ward and community of which we are a part were made to feel like ‘the house of Jesus Christ’ — a place where our natural environments are preserved, a place where mutual love and service prevail, a place of unity and peace, a place where all can find acceptance and protection, and a place where our differences are overshadowed by our common values.”

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About the church

Elder Holland is one of four members of the Quorum of the Twelve apostles who have traveled internationally recently:

  • Elder Gary E. Stevenson spoke at the first R20, also known as the G20 Religion Forum. Here is an article about what he said. Here is a copy of his full remarks. “Overcoming ignorance starts by understanding,” he said.
  • Elder Neil L. Andersen is in the South Pacific this week visiting New Zealand, Fiji and Australia. “In the eyes of God, we are all equal,” he said about men and women during a meeting with church leaders in New Zealand.
  • Elder Gerrit W. Gong was in Mexico. “Each of us can be a strong welding link in our eternal family,” he said during a young adult devotional.

Tickets are available for the First Presidency’s annual Christmas devotional on Dec. 4 at the Conference Center. You can request up to six tickets here.

Here’s a list of the Latter-day Saints who ran for seats in the U.S. Congress this week.

Here’s an opinion piece that takes a look at the weird, unfounded rumors people are spreading about students at church colleges and universities. The Deseret News’ Hanna Seariac writes, “No, Rolling Stone, Latter-day Saint college students aren’t sexual deviants: Searching for hypocrisy among religious people has become a sport among some American writers. Here’s what they get wrong.”

What I’m reading

It’s hard to believe now, but half a century ago, some people believed women couldn’t run as far as men. Here’s a nice story about that: “Fifty years ago, six women protested at the start line of the NYC Marathon and changed history.”

You know Seabiscuit and Secretariat, but do you know Flightline? (Paywall) He missed the Triple Crown races last year, so he’s been relatively unknown, but he’s taken the horse racing world by storm this year and is drawing comparisons to the greatest names in the sport. He won the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Saturday the way he always wins, far ahead of the other horses. Here’s a piece from Australia that places his greatness in an international context. Watch Saturday’s race, his last, below. If only for the announcer yelling at the end, “It is a spine-tingling, jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring, Secretariat-like Breeders’ Cup win?”

Manti Te’o will be inducted into the Polynesian Hall of Fame in January, not long after Netflix released its documentary on his catfishing scandal, “Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist.”

Behind the Scenes

Elder Gary E. Stevenson and His Excellency Dr. Mohammad Abdulkarim Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League.

Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles presents a gift to His Excellency Dr. Mohammad Abdulkarim Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League, at the G20 Religion Forum in Bali, Indonesia, on Wednesday, November 2, 2022. Between them is a gift Dr. Al-Issa presented to Elder Stevenson.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints