As the cold and darkness of winter approaches, fellow-believers there need our support more than ever. The initial shock factor of the war and the unspeakable cruelties committed against innocent people, has faded, but the conflict continues.
DON’T GET WAR WEARY!
News about the war situation in Ukraine has become conspicuous by its near absence from our new bulletins now. Short reports appear, squeezed between the anxiety-laden reports of the cost of living crisis, and the latest sports results, or perceived personality accomplishments. It seems the world, by and large, has moved on and the cruel and devastating consequences of the war have been pushed to the back of our minds.
God forbid that evangelical believers should become ‘war weary’ in their concerns and intercession for the land of Ukraine.
As the cold and darkness of winter approaches, fellow-believers there need our support more than ever. The initial shock factor of the war and the unspeakable cruelties committed against innocent people, has faded, but the conflict continues, and the awful death toll mounts among both the military and the civilian population. How are God’s people faring, and how are they ministering to others?
The hard facts are that God’s people are suffering in the same way as the whole population. Believers are not exempt from the consequences of sin and evil in our world, and it raises the perennial questions which none of us in the limitations of our human minds can answer: Why do the innocent suffer? Why, as the Psalmist puts it, do the heathen prosper? However interesting and valid these and other similar questions are, there are questions for God’s people which are more urgent and of greater practical importance.
How can we support and encourage God’s people in their extreme need? How can we reach the many unbelievers caught up in the horrors of this war? How can we advance the cause of Christ in such an arena of wickedness and violence? These are the questions and challenges which SGA, with the faithful help of you, the Mission’s prayer partners and supporters, have been seeking to address. There is a vital need that we do not become ‘war-weary’ and lose our burden to pray and offer practical support to desperately needy people.
On a practical and humanitarian level, generous funds have been sent to relieve the needs of those living in the conflict zones. Believers’ families are caring for hundreds of suffering children, offering foster care to those separated from, or bereft of parents, due to the war. Those children get so much more than shelter and food. They are the objects of Christlike love and deep compassion, and the subjects of much sincere prayer. They experience the love of Christ in action, and our prayer is that many will find the Saviour.
Church buildings are being turned into ‘community hubs’ where those without light, heat, and power can come to shelter, keep warm, and enjoy the blessings of companionship and mutual support. SGA is helping in the supply of electricity generators, to supply the necessary power.
The support of widows becomes an ever more critical need. Husbands and fathers are dying daily, and families are torn apart, broken by grief, and plunged into deep need physically and materially. SGA’s Widows Project has been of immense help to many widows in different countries and in various circumstances, but nowhere more-so than bringing help to ‘war widows’ whose lives have been shattered in the cruelest way. The loss of homes, clothing and personal belongings is grievous, but by far the most bitter loss is of husbands, fathers, providers.
With reference to the churches and their ministry, there has been much disruption and destruction. Buildings have been destroyed, congregations scattered, pastors hounded out and even in some cases injured and killed. Services have been prohibited in occupied zones, and accusations levelled against believers that they are in league with the West and consequently viewed with suspicion. Funds have been sent to support displaced pastors and to enable them to continue in ministry. Pastor Igor Bandura, Baptist Union Senior Vice President, explained it takes years to prepare a pastor, but in the war situation the church could lose him in a moment. These funds are vital to sustain pastors and their families.
It may seem foolish to many to ask about evangelism and Gospel outreach in this broken country, but in reality there is so much in which to rejoice, as reports come in of thousands of men, women, and children being brought to Christ. In the midst of physical darkness and the moral depravity of war, the light of the Gospel is shining brightly and Christ is building His Church.
• In association with our partners in mission, over 30,000 Bible sets [adult and children’s Bibles] have been printed and distributed.
• A Christian literature factory in west Ukraine, supported by SGA UK, has, in the last 6 months, printed 100,000 New Testaments for adults, and 100,000 New Testaments for children, 300,000 various pieces of Christian literature, and 50,000 pocket sized Gospel booklets for the Ukrainian military.
• That same factory has also become a food distribution centre. More than 20,000 food boxes have been packed and prepared, and delivered to hungry people all over the country. Food for body and soul!
• It is estimated that around 20,000 more people have started to attend church, an expression of a hunger for the things of God and the Word of God.
On the borders of Ukraine, massive relief efforts continue, and many pastors and churches receiving help and support from SGA are continuing to minister to those forced out and fleeing from danger and death. The drain on these faithful people mentally, emotionally, and physically is immense, but they refuse to abandon their efforts. They refuse to become ‘war weary’, and in the strength and grace of the Lord, they continue to share the Gospel by word and deed to those who have suffered most in this seemingly unending conflict.
To you, our SGA supporters, we appeal: do not become ‘war weary’. Continue steadfastly in prayer and intercession for the churches of Christ in Ukraine. Continue to give and provide the means whereby the Mission can continue and persist in its Gospel and humanitarian efforts, all for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the eternal salvation of the lost.