‘Even when we have rumours of war the Gospel should still be preached; this is the main purpose of Christ’s church’.
This profound comment was made during an interview with SGA’s long-standing friend Pastor Igor Bandura, three days before the start of the war in Ukraine. It reinforces the incredible dedication of Ukrainian churches to the work of the Gospel in what was to become an extremely challenging region of the world. Over the past 21 months we have observed believers who, by God’s grace, display unyielding faithfulness and unflagging zeal to share the Gospel.
When we read Paul’s letter to the Philippians (1:12-14), we discover another man who was totally committed to Gospel advance. It was more important to Paul than his own freedom! He writes this section of the letter to show the Philippians that his imprisonment was actually helping the cause of the Gospel, rather than hindering it.
From a human standpoint, imprisonment would greatly slow progress, but Paul had a different perspective! He shares with us two ways in which prison had really served to advance the Gospel. Firstly, his imprisonment allowed him to share the Gospel with the whole palace guard (1:13). Secondly, it encouraged other believers to share the Gospel more boldly (14). Paul’s captivity might have created a greater fear in the believers of sharing the Gospel. Instead, it had just the opposite effect. They were encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.
Pastor Alexander serving faithfully in the east of Ukraine
The same can be said of Ukrainian believers today. The brutal consequences of their circumstances could easily serve as a distraction from Gospel ministry, but a very different attitude prevails. While visiting SGA-sponsored missionary families, I was amazed that in this country, engulfed in war, conversations centred on advancing the Gospel rather than dwelling on the pain and hurt inflicted on so many.
Prior to the Russian invasion, SGA, in partnership with the Baptist Union, helped to develop the Irpin Church-Planting School. Many of those who completed ministry training at the centre are now actively serving today. SGA is passionate about Gospel advance, and we are convinced that to do so effectively, we must follow the example of 2 Timothy 2:2. Discussions are underway to establish other teaching centres.
Now is the time to evaluate our lives in terms of advancing the Gospel. Nothing is more important, for the Gospel glorifies Jesus as Saviour and Lord, restores people to a right relationship with Him, and saves people from sin, death and hell. There is no name under heaven, other than Jesus, whereby people can be saved.