From the Diocese in Europe:
The war in Ukraine has spilled over, in many ways, to neighbouring countries including Hungary. Rev’d Solomon Ekiyor, missionary to Nigerian students in Ukraine, shares his story of fleeing to Budapest.
“I received an urgent email at the beginning of the conflict,” reported Revd Dr Frank Hegeds, Area Dean and Chaplain at St Margaret’s Budapest. “It was Revd Solomon Ekiyor”, former Archdeacon and Residentiary Canon of St Matthew’s Cathedral, Patani, in Western Izon Diocese, Nigeria.
Initially, Solomon contacted The Ven Leslie Nathaniel, Archdeacon of East Germany and Northern Europe, who put him in touch with Fr Frank. “It was the Anglican Communion working in a really practical and immediate way,” Solomon said.
Archdeacon Solomon moved to Ukraine in 2017 to be a pastor for Nigerian students. Although, in more recent years he had been working as a mission planter, under the auspices of his diocese’s missionary directorate, alongside his wife who is a medical doctor.
After a burdensome journey from Ukraine to Slovakia and then on to Budapest, Solomon shared in an interview with the Church Times; “It was a hard decision to go… I felt a responsibility to stay while I knew there were still students there who needed my help. However, relatives in Nigeria begged me to leave, if not for my own sake then for my wife and children.”
Solomon highlighted how a member of the Saint Margaret’s Chaplaincy Council, property manager Gordon Cross, was able to arrange suitable lodging for the family and students within a day at no cost to the family.
“Fr Frank’s kindness, and that of the whole congregation, has been overwhelming,” said Solomon. “They opened not only their hearts, but also their doors and even their wallets. They have found accommodation for me, my family, and the Nigerian students we brought with us. There are nine of us in this flat, which they have rented for a month; the generosity of this small congregation is amazing.”
“We have been privileged,” said Fr Frank, “to have the Archdeacon, his family, and student among us.”
The Archdeacon addressed the Saint Margaret’s congregation on Sunday 6 March 2022, and made an eloquent appeal for peace and faith in God’s loving providence. Meanwhile, the children were able to join in the activities of the Saint Margaret’s Sunday School.
Solomon told the churchgoers, in the Józsefváros Lutheran Church, Budapest. “The war profoundly disrupts our lives and plans,” but “our faith also gives us resources to meet these questions.”
“God did not cause the evil in Putin’s act, but God has a way of working with it, improvising and weaving it into the tapestry of his purpose in the world. . . It is for each of us to now ask his guidance on what new purpose he has for us in this situation. I am asking that for myself, too.”
He concluded the interview “I’d like to continue my ministry in the UK somehow, but, for now, I am trying to pastor to other Nigerians who are displaced here and contemplating their future. St Margaret’s is giving me a platform from which to do that.”
We ask your prayers for Father Solomon and his family, the many people who have been displaced from Ukraine and those offering shelter and support to refugees. You can support the Ukraine Appeal through the Bishop’s Lent and Easter Appeal, helping those in Ukraine and those who have fled to neighbouring countries.