Local church sponsoring Ukrainian family of 4

Karen Liimatta, left, and Deborah Heino, members of Crossroads Christian Fellowship, support the church’s sponsorship of a Ukrainian family. Here they are shown with the Ukrainian flag. (Journal photo by Christie Mastric)

MARQUETTE — Even a little church can do its part to battle an insidious global threat.

Crossroads Fellowship, a parish of about 30 people located at 101 Oakridge Drive, is raising money to sponsor a Ukrainian family who has applied for “humanitarian parole” in the United States. The church plans to host the family in Marquette.

Talking about the effort on Wednesday with The Mining Journal were Karen Liimatta, wife of pastor Andy Liimatta, and church member Deborah Heino.

Liimatta said that through the U.S. government, the church is sponsoring a family of four from Ukraine, which has suffered much devastation since Russia invaded the country earlier this year.

She expected the family to arrive in the area this month, coming from the Sumy region of Ukraine about 30 kilometers from the Russian border. She refrained from providing too many details about the family for security reasons.

“They are the first of what we hope to be several families that we hope to sponsor,” Liimatta said. “Our goal is to start with sponsoring one family, and once we get them established here or somewhere in the United States, once they have a job and know the ropes and are put into our system and have all their forms filled out and everything, then we will move on to another family.”

The effort to help Ukrainians sprung from Heino, who watched refugees fleeing the country when the invasion broke out this year.

“I thought to myself, if we could get 10 or 12 churches to unite, just little churches like our church, we could sponsor a family,” Heino said.

She toyed with the idea for several weeks before approaching the fellowship.

Liimatta was receptive to this idea.

Heino said she was in contact with U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Watersmeet, who also supported the effort.

Liimatta said that once they learned that the federal program to help refugees was opened, she began to research the issue. She found a lot of information from the Facebook page USA/Canada/Americas Host, Sponsor, Help Ukraine.

There were many factors, but she was undeterred.

“Let’s just do this,” Liimatta said. “Let’s find a family, and we will kind of build the ship as we sail out to sea.

“And so far, it’s been such a blessing. There have been so many people that have joined around us that have said, ‘Oh, you need this? I can help with this kind of thing.'”

Liimatta said the church has an apartment for the family, although there is an official government timetable for a family staying for two years on humanitarian parole.

The church’s goal, she noted, is to provide accommodations for a month or two after the family has secured a work permit.

“Our hope is that they will become established and possibly help us with new families that we bring in as well, but it will be up to them,” Liimatta said.

Of course, money is needed, and people can visit www.crossroadsmqtcom for the donation link, or call 906-362-4669. On the back of business cards the church made for “Helping Ukrainians at the Crossroads,” as it says on the cards, is a list of other ways people can help, such as prayers, gift cards, money designated for airfare, pledging a monthly amount and being a family sponsor.

Liimatta said the church wants to help Ukrainians individually, but believes there’s a bigger aspect to it.

“I feel that this issue with the war in Ukraine has global ramifications that need to be kept in the forefront of our mind,” she said.

She has another message.

“We want to help and support as many families as we can, but what will help and support the most families is if we as a country could do everything that we can to get the Russians out of Ukraine so these people can actually go home,” Liimatta said.

Heino pointed out another thing to consider: The Ukrainians are battling a “superpower that is threatening the entire European continent.”

“As a veteran, it’s important that we understand that we owe a debt of gratitude to them for what they’re trying to do,” she said.

Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.


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