The Ukrainian Church What Is God Teaching Us?
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How is God blessing the Ukrainian church during the Russian invasion? What can we learn from it?
Although the directive is for the missionaries to exit Ukraine, some missionaries are choosing to stay back in their mission field. These missionaries are not only risking their lives but the lives of their family members as well.
Vasyl Ostryi - Pastor at Irpin’ Bible Church and Professor of youth ministry at Kyiv Theological Seminary writes, “My wife and I have decided to remain in our city near Kyiv. We want to serve the people here along with Irpin Bible Church ...In anticipation of coming disaster, we’ve bought a supply of food, medicine, and fuel so that, if necessary, we’ll be able to help those in need rather than burden them.
Ours is a family of six. We’re raising four daughters. What I worry about the most is my 16-year-old who travels to college every day for an hour and a half, one way, by public transportation...Thankfully, her classes have now gone online.”1
To stay back to serve the people in need, while potentially sacrificing their lives and that of their families, is indeed remarkable, “...if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” (Isaiah 58:10, NIV)
Churches in Ukraine are in a state of readiness to serve (cf. Matthew 25:34-40), “The All-Ukrainian Union of Evangelical Baptist Churches, the largest Protestant community in Ukraine, reports among its ranks 2,272 churches, 320 missionary groups, and 113,000 adult believers.
Many of these believers are mobilizing. Bandura explained that plans are underway to turn church basements into refugee centers, as they stock up on supplies. Members with medical backgrounds are readying for service.
“We very much hope that our house of prayer will not be needed to shelter people...But we are preparing so that people can come here, if necessary, to find safety and shelter.”2
Christianity Today reports, “Valentin Siniy, president of Tavriski Christian Institute (TCI) in Kherson, about 50 miles from Crimea, had to evacuate his seminary along with a team of Bible translators as Russian helicopters attacked local targets.
“The majority of old pastors of the churches stayed in the cities. Youth leaders started evacuating young people,” he told CT. “We managed to purchase a van with 20 seats in order to evacuate people. About 30 people are in a safe place now, in western Ukraine. There are about 40 more people driving west [in] vehicles that are in bad condition.”
Meanwhile his church has opened its basement to shelter neighbors living in multi-story buildings from bombings.
“I and all ministers stay in Kyiv,” said Yuriy Kulakevych, foreign affairs director of the Ukrainian Pentecostal Church. “We continue our intercessory prayers, talk to people to reduce panic, and help those in need.”3
The Ukrainian church is praying for unity, peace, wisdom, and the blessing of Ukraine and even her enemies, “...the focus turned to prayer: for wisdom, courage, ministers in the occupied territories, the national army—and even the enemies of Ukraine...And on Sunday evening at Grace Church of Evangelical Christians in Kyiv, over 1,000 people gathered to pray for the unity, peace, and blessing of Ukraine.”4
Even before the Russian invasion, the Ukrainian church was preaching for peace, calm, and protection, “Preaching on the Sermon on the Mount’s injunction toward peacemaking, Kulakevych continued his laser-sharp focus on the possible Russian invasion. Five weeks ago, as the separatist conflict in the eastern Donbas region began to escalate, he surveyed the Bible for its teaching on “wars and rumors of war.”
He followed that with an application of “Do not let your hearts be troubled” and, on the next Sunday, a treatise on worry. Last week, he tried shifting to include more mundane examples in a sermon on Jesus calming the storm, such as pandemic, career, and relationship difficulties. But the Russian threat did not dissipate.
“Protect yourself and your family by all possible means,” Kulakevych told the church. “And serve as a mentor for people in a bad state.”5
5. God Rules
God continues to bring HIS people into HIS presence even during this invasion, “But even amid this conflict, we’re hearing stories of people who’ve been prayed for over the years now coming to faith and making huge steps forward. In a word, what the Enemy has intended for evil, God is using for good.”6