Christians taken captive in Slovyansk

Satellite imagery of church where separatists kidnapped 4 believers.  (Photo cred: Ukraine@war.blogspot.com)

Satellite imagery of church where separatists kidnapped 4 believers.
(Photo credit: Ukraine@war.blogspot.com)

Ukraine (MNN) — Russian separatists are holding four believers captive in eastern Ukraine. They kidnapped the Christians from a church in Slovyansk on Sunday, says Russian Ministries.

Some of the kidnapped Christians are being used as human shields, and Orthodox Churches have become storage points for weaponry. Please pray for the safe return of the four kidnapped believers

Get the full report here.

The news comes as Ukraine’s newly-appointed President Petro Poroshenko steps into power. On Sunday, Poroshenko vowed to stop separatist fighting in eastern Ukraine before the week ends. Violence between the government and pro-Russian rebels has claimed at least 200 lives so far.

“For me, every day in which people die, every day in which Ukraine pays such a high price, is unacceptable,” said Poroshenko.

But the so-called “Chocolate King” will have his hands full this week. Yesterday, Poroshenko met in Brussels with European and Russian leaders to avoid an impending fuel freeze.

Following the February 2014 ouster of Ukraine’s former leader, Viktor Yanukovych, Russia doubled the amount it charges for gas. In protest, Kiev refused to foot the bill; when Moscow came to collect, the EU gathered both parties around the table for a mediated discussion.

Meanwhile, a refugee crisis is mounting in western Ukraine. Between 15,000 and 23,000 people have fled the crisis in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, Russian Ministries reports.

Having fled their homes, jobs, and friends, refugee families now face a host of new problems: the need for housing, food, clothing, work, and medical care. They also must cope with less visible but equally serious issues including fear, anxiety, mistrust, disorientation, and lack of purpose.

Workers unload Gospels of John for distribution.  (Image captured from screenshot of Russian Ministries' video)

Workers unload Gospels of John for distribution.
(Image captured from screenshot of Russian Ministries’ video)

To address this problem, the ministry is organizing an all-day training event for Ukrainian churches on how to reach out to refugees. They’re also starting an “I Care” Refugee Assistance program. The goal of this program is to fill and distribute at least 1,000 food packs with basic food and personal care items as well as a copy of Scripture for refugee families.

The cost to fill and deliver each food pack is $50, which will feed one refugee family for a week. Click here to help out.

“[Gospel workers are] sharing the Gospel of John with them [refugees] so they’ll be able to find direction in the midst of all this despair and find peace in Jesus Christ,” said Russian Ministries President Sergey Rakhuba in a recent video.

“Hunger for hope is so huge here.”

Please keep praying for the situation in Ukraine. Pray for an immediate end to the violence, and that a peaceful resolution can be found. Pray that widespread uncertainty will result in more people discovering the Truth through Gospel literature distributed by Russian Ministries.