Volunteers help refugees from neighboring Ukraine inside a hotel in Suceava, Romania, on March 4, 2022. The Mandachi Hotel converted its ballroom into a refugee shelter. (AP/Andreea Alexandru)

Volunteers help refugees from neighboring Ukraine inside a hotel in Suceava, Romania, on March 4, 2022. The Mandachi Hotel converted its ballroom into a refugee shelter. (AP/Andreea Alexandru)

Olga Okhrimenko holds her dog, Knolly, at the shelter. (AP/Andreea Alexandru)

Olga Okhrimenko holds her dog, Knolly, at the shelter. (AP/Andreea Alexandru)

A factory and a store burn after being shelled in Irpin, Ukraine, on March 6, 2022. (AP/Emilio Morenatti)

A factory and a store burn after being shelled in Irpin, Ukraine, on March 6, 2022. (AP/Emilio Morenatti)

A destroyed tank remains behind after battles between Ukrainian and Russian forces on a main road near Brovary, north of Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 10, 2022. (AP/Felipe Dana)

A destroyed tank remains behind after battles between Ukrainian and Russian forces on a main road near Brovary, north of Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 10, 2022. (AP/Felipe Dana)

Ukrainian servicemen ride on a fighting vehicle outside Kyiv, Ukraine, on April 2, 2022.  (AP/Vadim Ghirda)

Ukrainian servicemen ride on a fighting vehicle outside Kyiv, Ukraine, on April 2, 2022. (AP/Vadim Ghirda)

Room in the Inn . . . for Ukraine

Posted: May 1, 2022

Olga Okhrimenko walks into a fancy hotel ballroom in Suceava, Romania. Her dog, Knolly, strains at the leash. The two have spent three days fleeing Ukraine by car, bus, and taxi in the bitter cold.

Is there room in the inn? Just barely. The owner of the Mandachi Hotel has decided to welcome refugees from Ukraine. In a little more than a week, more than 2,000 people and 100 pets took turns sleeping in the hotel’s ballroom. Row upon row of numbered mattresses cover the floor. A disco ball glitters overhead.

Why are people running away from Ukraine?

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. Many innocent people were killed. In just 10 days, more than 1.7 million Ukrainians fled. Many journeyed to nearby countries such as Romania.

Ukraine sits on the border of Russia. Once, both countries belonged to the Soviet Union. Russia led the Soviet Union and oppressed its people. But in 1991, the Soviet Union fell apart. Ukraine finally had freedom from Russian rule.

But the trouble was far from over. In 2014, Ukrainians overthrew their president Viktor Yanukovych. (He supported Russia.) Russia and Ukraine have been at war ever since. And now Russian President Vladimir Putin wants Ukraine back.

Does Ukraine belong to Russia? Ukrainians say “NO!” And most of the rest of the world agrees.

For now, volunteers at the hotel change the mismatched sheets on mattresses. They place handwritten signs over them: “reserved” or “free.”

One bus pulls away from the hotel. It carries refugees farther from their homes in Ukraine. Right away, another bus pulls in.

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers. — Hebrews 13:2

Why? People in Europe are showing hospitality to Ukrainians in need. We can follow their example and look for needs close to us.

Pray for peace and justice for the people of Ukraine.