Alexe Costea (far right) is shown with Ukrainian refugees who he helped transport across the Ukraine-Romania border. Credit: Courtesy of Alexe Costea

MARS HILL, Maine — The small, rural East Ridge Union Church in Mars Hill is helping with the evacuation of Ukraine, one donation at a time.

The East Ridge Union Church, which has approximately 80 members, has collected money to send to Alexe Costea, a Romanian missionary who has had ties with the Mars Hill church for nearly two decades.

Costea began delivering supplies to the border and transporting refugees out of the country when Russia invaded Ukraine and the fighting began in February. Since then, the small Mars Hill church has raised approximately $4,520 in donations that the missionary uses for more supplies, and to help people cross the border. So far, Costea has helped 26 people get out of Ukraine, he said.

Costea’s relationship began with the church when The Rev. Micheal Dailey traveled with a group of about 16 members of East Ridge to Romania in 2004, where they connected with several churches — Costea’s among them. Since then, Costea and his family have stayed in touch with the church. Members of East Ridge have visited the Romanian church over the years where they have assisted Costea with projects related to his mission, such as construction.

Costea and his family live in the small town of Dragonesti Olt, Romania, where he serves as a missionary and church planter at Biserica Crestina Alfa & Omega Comani. When he heard about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he knew he had to do something. He called everyone in his community to gather up supplies that he would take to Ukrainians at the border who were fleeing their country.

“I didn’t know exactly what they needed,” Costea said. “I made a call in the community, not just the church community but my neighborhood as well, and they responded and came with lots of groceries, clothes and other supplies.”

In just two hours, the community was able to fill up his van with supplies for Costea to take to the border.

The money from East Ridge Union Church has been helping Costea purchase both supplies and gas for the repeated trips.

Costea has been taking refugees to Bucharest where they can get in contact with family and friends outside of Ukraine, having made trips to the southern, eastern and northern borders. On his first trip to the east, he was able to take six women across the border to Bucharest, two mothers and five children from the north, and has even brought 13 people so far all the way to Vienna, which for him was more than 1,100 miles.

Costea stressed that he does not do this work alone He said that only through the help and support of others, these trips have been successful.

“I am with my partners, I am with the people who are praying with me, I am with the people who have been providing us support,” Costea said. “I am not the hero, we are all together — those who stand hand in hand, and create a chain of love and be the feet and hands of Jesus. All together, we create a chain and share the love of Christ.”

East Ridge Union Church supports six different missionaries and six different mission organizations, according to church Pastor Leroy Frost. The church sends money every month to each missionary and organization to help them with expenses and projects.

The East Ridge Union Church is continuing to take donations to send money to Costea. Those wishing to donate can send money to the church at P.O. Box 45, Mars Hill, Maine, 04758.


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David DiMinno

David grew up in New York, and moved to Maine to study political science at the University of Maine. In his spare time, he loves hiking, playing tennis and skiing.