As Russia invaded Ukraine today, a Baptist home was destroyed and a seminary rocked by blasts nearby, although local sources told CT that no churches or Christian buildings had been attacked so far. ‘now.
President Vladimir Putin has announced that his forces only target military installations. He also claimed that Ukraine does not really exist as a nation.
Igor Bandura, vice president of the Baptist Union, Ukraine’s largest Protestant body, heard about collateral damage to a Baptist’s home in Donetsk during a Zoom call with his 25 regional superintendents.
Minus one. On the front lines of the eastern Donbass region, the Baptist leader of the occupied Luhansk territory could not join.
But from the town of Chasov Yor on the front lines in neighboring Donetsk – in an area then still under Ukrainian government control – Bandura learned of the local assessment.
“People don’t want to be under Russian control,” he was told. “But they feel helpless. What can ordinary people do? »
Pray. And stay calm.
This is the message issued by the Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations (UCCRO), a day after its appeal to Putin went unanswered.
Chief Rabbi of Ukraine guest Christian leaders to recite Psalm 31 together.
“We urge you to remain calm, not to panic, and to comply with the orders of the Ukrainian state and military authorities,” he added. declared UCCRO. “The truth and the international community are on the Ukrainian side. We believe good will prevail, with God’s help.
Thousands of Ukrainians fled west as Russian missiles hit targets across the country. The Ukrainian Interior Ministry has reported nearly 400 cases of bombings.
While calling for the establishment of an international no-fly zone over Ukraine, Yuriy Kulakevych, foreign affairs director of the Ukrainian Pentecostal Church, echoed the interfaith statement.
“I and all the ministers are staying in Kyiv,” he said. “We continue our intercessory prayers, talk to people to reduce panic and help those in need.”
In Kamyanka, 230 km to the south, Vadym Kulynchenko of Our Legacy Ukraine reported that his church had already started receiving refugees from the east. Temporary shelters will be provided and the main needs are food, medicine, fuel, hygiene products and air mattresses.
Bombs hit three infrastructure centers in his city.
“Please pray for discipleship in the country, safety of our people and generosity in the midst of war,” Kulynchenko asked. “And also for discernment, because there is a lot of fake news.”
Kiev Theological Seminary (KTS) previously had Posted a general warning.
“Generating panic through the dissemination of manipulative false information is exactly what the enemy is looking for,” a communications professor wrote on Tuesday. “This war is not so much for our territories as it is for our souls and spirits.”
On Thursday, KTS quoted Isaiah 41:10 as it urged her Facebook audience “not to panic, but to remember how many times God in His Word says ‘fear not’.” The seminar noted that fear equals paralysis, while prayer, trust in God and love of neighbor all give strength.
With a “heart of lead,” Taras Dyatlik wrote to supporters of theological education about the many prayer needs currently facing his fellow church and seminary leaders in Ukraine, including welcoming refugees into their dormitories.
“Many of them are considering evacuating their workers, teachers and students to Ukraine, and some have no possibility of evacuating,” wrote the regional director of the Overseas Council for Europe from East and Central Asia.
He asked for prayers for families, including his own, as Ukraine’s announcement of total mobilization “means that many students, graduates and professors will be called up for military service to serve in the army and participate in fights”. And he asked for prayer for the wives of the male leaders. Since all men between the ages of 18 and 60 are no longer allowed to leave the country, he said many women are also staying.
“Today I spoke to [my wife] about the evacuation out of Ukraine,” Dyatlik wrote. “She immediately refused and said, ‘I will be with you until the end.'”
According to the school’s director of English language services, Josh Tokar, students at the Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary (UETS) outside Kyiv have been ordered to shelter in place while the military was fighting at a nearby airport. Those on campus are scared but not panicked, he said. The seminary president sent a message from Psalm 27: “The Lord is my light and my salvation—of whom shall I fear?
Bandura did not respond to the call for calm.
“Who are you to say our nation doesn’t exist? he said of Putin’s rhetoric. “The truth is with us, and God is with us. We want to live in peace, but if Russia wants to take this from us, let’s fight.
While some Ukrainians are sympathetic to Russia, he said, half the population is ready to personally defend their nation.
The pictures have distributed grandmothers with guns.
The Russian Evangelical Alliance (REA) expressed support for UCCRO’s call for peacemaking initiatives.
“All Evangelical Christians pray every day and ask the Almighty to give wisdom to all,” said Vladimir Vlasenko, General Secretary of the REA, “to preserve the fragile peace and not plunge our countries into fratricidal conflicts” .
“We see no justification for these actions and are deeply saddened by the death, destruction, chaos and misery that will result,” said Thomas Bucher, general secretary of the European Evangelical Alliance, according to for Gospel orientation.
“The invasion of Ukraine is both unwarranted and unprovoked,” he said. “It has been claimed that the attack was necessary to protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine and to prevent Ukraine from threatening Russia. These claims are false. This disaster was caused by President Putin for broader geopolitical purposes . »
In Rivne, in western Ukraine, local officials directed all churches are to remain open, with church leaders staying in contact with residents to help coordinate aid as well as military equipment as needed.
Many in Ukraine are showing resilience.
New Life Radio staff in Odessa, on the Black Sea coast, saw missiles pass in front of their homes. They Recount Gospel orientation they take steps to hide the equipment and preserve the broadcast, in case the station is attacked in the near future.
Vasyl Ostryi, a pastor at Irpin Bible Church 29 km northwest of Kiev and a youth ministry teacher at KTS, also decided to stay.
“When this is over, the citizens of Kyiv will remember how Christians responded in their time of need,” he said. wrote for the Gospel Coalition. “We will shelter the weak, serve the suffering and mend the broken. And in doing so, we offer the unshakable hope of Christ and his gospel.
Photos circulated showing Ukrainians kneeling in prayer city streets.
Image: Courtesy of Ukrainian Bible Society
YouVersion has noted a spike among Ukrainian and Russian users of its popular Bible app over the past three weeks: searches for fear increased by 11%; research peace increased by 44%.
“We have printed Bibles for 2022 and now we are in the second month of the year and the stock in our warehouse is almost exhausted,” said Anatoliy Raychynets, deputy general secretary of the Bible Society of Ukraine, Recount Eternity News shortly before the invasion.
“In our churches, whether Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant or Evangelical, there are more new people. Not just on Sunday or Saturday, but also during the week,” he told the Australian Bible Society News Service. “On the nights we have Bible study, new people come. They want to pray, to hear something that brings hope or comfort.
Rick Perhai, director of advanced degrees at KTS, said the international church he leads in Kyiv has several leaders recommending the congregation to continue worship next Sunday. Some of their expatriate members fled; others want to stay and join the fight.
He laments that the enemy seeks to destroy Ukraine while its Christians are increasingly ready to take the gospel to surrounding nations. Nevertheless, he prays for the Russians, asking God to grant them repentance.
But his petition is also imprecatory.
“Pray that the Russian nation will tire of its tyrant’s rantings at home and abroad,” Perhai said, “and remove him.”
Dyatlik also asked for prayer for “the truth”, citing all “perspectives” in the media.
“We did not invite war. The Kremlin and Vladimir Putin brought it to Ukraine. … There is a moral evaluation of acts of aggression like this,” the theological educator wrote. “These acts have a biblical definition and a biblical evaluation. Please pray for spiritual discernment about these things.
Dyatlik ended his prayer letter with requests for believers on both sides of the conflict:
Please pray for Russian Christians to raise their prayers and their voices to the Russian government to stop the aggression; [that they] would not keep silent; please pray for Western, United States and European Union governments.
Finally, pray for Ukrainian Christians, that we serve and live as a community of hope in the full sense of the term; that in these terrible times we invite more and more people into relationships with God and his children, into relationships of love, hope, encouragement, support; that our minds and characters would continue to change into the character of Jesus Christ.
Western nations have strongly condemned Putin and prepared sanctions. Reports distributed of Russians queuing at ATMs to withdraw their money, fearing the nation could be cut off from the international banking system.
Meanwhile, in Donetsk, where 25 mission teams have worked to establish churches, gas lines necessitate a wait of hours for a rationed five-gallon supply. Grocery stories suffer from empty shelves, as Ukrainians stock up on emergency food and water.
Bandura conveys his supervisor’s two main prayer requests.
“First, to stop the aggressor,” he said. “But then for peace of mind, to respond with a Christian character and not out of human hatred.”
Editor’s Note: This article will be updated. With reporting by Rachel Pfeiffer.