Screenshot 2023-08-23 at 14.22.02
Screenshot 2023-08-23 at 14.22.49
Screenshot 2023-08-23 at 14.25.28
Screenshot 2023-08-23 at 14.23.41


In today’s 24-hour news deluge, we’re constantly presented with huge issues from around the world. Many times, we feel helpless to respond. When the war in Ukraine started last year, the prospect of war in Europe and the potential for it to extend beyond the borders of Ukraine was very real. 

Our natural instinct is to want to help but quite often we do not know how to do so in a meaningful way. However, I have always been challenged by God’s question to Moses – ‘What have you got in your hand?’ (Exodus 4:2). As publishers, authors, booksellers and distributors there was something we always have in our hands – books!

Kingsway CLC Trust is part of CLC International which has operations on the ground in four of the countries receiving the most refugees. Very quickly a plan emerged between our International Director, Gary Chamberlin, and Tomasz Kalisz of CLC Poland to investigate how we could supply books to some of the displaced people – both within and beyond Ukraine. So many people had to flee their homes, often leaving loved ones behind, maybe carrying only what they could fit in a couple of suitcases. We can imagine to a degree, but we cannot fully know the trauma suffered by such people.

Why would books make a difference? After all, refugees need food, shelter and safety. Of course, many wonderful organisations have helped with these primary needs, but we also know that in a major crisis people turn to God for comfort and answers. In addition, many refugees were choosing to speak and read in their own Ukrainian language even if, for some, Russian was their first language, hence the need to print books in Ukrainian. It is also a reality that refugees have a lot of time on their hands, so a book turned out to be a very welcome gift.

As a first response, Gary and Tomasz investigated how we could buy children’s Bibles in Ukraine. Coincidentally, two CLC team members had made a trip to Ukraine a few years before to meet with the major publishers, and so relationships were already established. Thousands of copies of children’s Bibles were bought from a publisher in Lviv, brought across the Polish border and they were quickly distributed. Due to the fact that so many of the first wave of refugees entered Poland, the second project was to print and distribute 10,000 bilingual Ukrainian / Polish children’s Bibles. By late spring we realised that the need was far greater than we could contemplate. However, at this point a whole series of connections sprang into action. Relationships with Ukrainian publishers meant we had access to current titles; a Ukrainian author who also deals with publishing rights was able to advise us; international publishers, recognising that they could not work on their own, provided funds to enable books to be printed; ministries such as Josh McDowell and Voice of the Martyrs gave generous financial support; and our own CLC teams in Poland, Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria had a myriad of contacts through whom the books could be distributed.

The printing of the books has taken place in Poland, Romania and in Ukraine itself. The focus was on Scriptures and evangelistic books for the various age groups. To date the following books have been printed and distributed:

·      210,000 Gospels of John, in collaboration with the Ukrainian Bible Society

·      10,000 Polish / Ukrainian bilingual children’s Bibles

·      20,000 Blotch, a tale of Forgiveness and Grace – a children’s allegorical story

·      15,000 My Name is Mariam – an award-winning book by Ukrainian author, Nadiyka Gerbish. Based on the experience of Kurdish refugees, Nadiyka wanted to help children understand what it means to be a refugee, and it was adopted into the Ukrainian school curriculum. 

·      30,000 Illustrated Bible for Little Onesby Copenhagen

·      60,000 Why Jesus? by Nick Gumble in collaboration with Alpha International

·      60,000 More than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell

·      30,000 Lion Bible for Children.

·      20,000 Mummy, what is God like? by Nadiyka Gerbish

In addition, in the UK we have collaborated with Alpha to print a further 5,000 copies of Why Jesus? and we have joined with 10 of Those to produce Ultimate Questions, both in Ukrainian.

The vast majority of these books have already been distributed as we have little storage space available. We know that the books have reached all across Europe as the refugees travel further, but they have also made it to the front line, where the fighting is actually taking place. This has a special poignancy for CLC as one of the founders of the mission, Ken Adams, had a burden to provide literature to soldiers leaving the UK to fight during the Second World War. The first bookshop was in Colchester, Essex, specifically because it was a barracks town.

It is hard for most of us to imagine what it means to be on the front line, but it is good to know that there are soldiers able to read the words:

‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.’ (John 14:27)

We know that adults and children have received these books while sheltering in bunkers in places, such as Bucha, that have become infamous during the war. We have also had the privilege of distributing many books to orphans.

In August 2022, I received a phone call out of the blue – from Ukraine. It was from an American missionary, Paul, who has worked in Ukraine for almost 30 years. I have no idea how he found my number. He shared with me that he and his family had to move within Ukraine, to the western part where it is safer. Quite naturally, they started reaching out to displaced people, supplying food and shelter. However, very soon he realised that these people were also spiritually hungry. They started laying on services which ran virtually back-to-back. Refugees were responding to Christ in a way that Paul had never known, and suddenly he needed discipleship material. He was calling to ask if they could translate First Steps by John Robertshaw. As we own the rights, naturally we facilitated this, and Paul was able to translate the book chapter by chapter as the weeks went by. Maybe this is a modern-day outworking of:

‘You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.’ (Genesis 50:20)

Recently we have heard of the baptism of four of those currently involved in the discipleship classes. The Ukraine Project is still ongoing, and the truth is we have never known anything like this. The resources poured in from publishers, ministries, trusts and the general public with very little encouragement from ourselves – we simply responded to what God sent to us. We are also grateful for the support we have received from the UK Christian book trade – bookshops, distributors and authors – and we want to take this opportunity to thank you. You are making a difference. The result has been almost 500,000 books and Gospels being distributed to folk in a time of great need. The focus of the work is now on the millions of displaced people within Ukraine. We will continue to respond as funds are made available. Longer term, our ambition is to start a CLC ministry in Ukraine itself. 

We still have limited copies of most of the titles available at the Kingsway CLC warehouse near Chester. Please feel free to call our Customer Services on 0330 8181 000 if you have contact with any Ukrainian families or communities. Virtually all the books are free, and we just ask a contribution for the cost of postage. I imagine very few of us speak Ukrainian, but the beauty of books is that you can give someone a gift in their own language. This, again, was an inspiration for our founder back in the 1940s. He could not communicate the gospel other than in English – but he could provide a Bible, a book or a tract in multiple languages. 

We should make special mention of Nadiyka Gerbish (see image at the top of the page). She was our principle contact especially in the early days, ensuring all the details in the presentation and copyright pages were correct. She is also the author of two of the books that we are distributing. But she and her daughter were themselves refugees in Poland for many months, separated from their husband and father. For us she been exemplary, wanting to help her own people while being part of their suffering. It has been an honour to participate in a small way and support folk in their time of need.