Conflict and war are not new to the nation of Ukraine. The eastern region of the country has been embroiled in conflict for eight years now, resulting in almost 15,000 deaths and the internal displacement of almost 2 million people.
Until recently it was a ‘forgotten war’, but the recent build-up of Russian military personnel and armaments on the border between the two countries, have brought this back to the centre of world news.
The present troops build-up is regarded as a ‘new level’ of threat – one which encompasses the whole nation and not merely certain regions. One key church leader reported that there is widespread apprehension in the population, but no panic.
Some believe that the Russians will not invade, but that this is a show of strength, laying down a marker of Russian resistance to any threat to its security. Others believe that the West is ‘ratcheting up’ the threat in order to encourage internal unity and solidarity.
Believers have been encouraged to remember that their confidence ultimately is in the God who is sovereign over the affairs of nations, and the churches have responded to calls for prayer and fasting for the situation. Their ultimate weapon, they assert, is the mighty weapon of prayer.
The uncertainty of the times has not impeded the ongoing ministry of evangelism and church planting. In the conflict zone in the east thirty-five new churches have been established in the last 8 years, in spite of the acute disruption to life in those regions. SGA missionaries report with joy of men, women, and young people turning to Christ for salvation.
The evangelical churches are not blind to the seriousness of further conflict and war, and with God-given wisdom have begun to lay plans for the relief of those who may become displaced victims of such. Detailed thought is being given to the provision of accommodation and shelter for those forced to flee.
Churches in five regions of western Ukraine are being consulted about the distribution of food and humanitarian aid, should this become necessary. Thought is being given as to how direction and guidance can be relayed to refugees if there is a breakdown in normal lines of communication.
Ukrainian church leaders are in conversation with western churches and missionary agencies about supply lines of finance, food and other necessities. Interestingly and significantly, they are also in touch with fellow-believers in Russia about these matters.
Among particular concerns expressed, are those concerning orphans and vulnerable young people who are presently under the care of churches in several locations. It is unlikely that the large numbers involved could be suitably re-located, and so believers are asked to pray for the safety and security of those orphanages and shelters which may be overrun by any future conflict. There are concerns too for the elderly and those in care.