Ukraine (MNN) — It’s another big week for Ukraine. President Petro Poroshenko is set to sign an EU agreement tomorrow. Pro-Russian separatists broke a ceasefire with the Ukrainian government days after it began. And, the West is yet again threatening Russia with sanctions for provoking violence in eastern Ukraine.
Joel Griffith of Slavic Gospel Association says Ukrainian Christians still have a glimmer of hope, though. Evangelical leaders sent an encouraging note to SGA about a June 11 prayer breakfast in Kiev.
“On one hand, while you had [in] eastern Ukraine all the shooting and violence going on, in the capital of Kiev in the Parliament Building you had politicians and government leaders coming in prayer to God, praying for peace,” says Griffith. “They’re wanting this now to become a tradition, as it has among legislatures in Western nations.”
Peace in Ukraine has been a distant reality since November 2013.
An EU trade agreement was at the center of protests which began peacefully in Kiev at the end of 2013 and quickly escalated, leading to the ouster of former President Viktor Yanukovych. The expelled leader sought refuge in Russia, which annexed Crimea in March.
As President Poroshenko prepares to make the Ukraine-EU relationship official tomorrow, Griffith says divides could deepen.
“I think it’s going to continue to cause some tension between Russia and Ukraine,” he shares.
Georgia and Moldova are moving in the same direction: they’re also signing political and trade agreements with the EU tomorrow. Russia considers those nations part of their Soviet regime, and their alliance with the EU “certainly might have the potential to fuel even further conflict,” Griffith notes.
Violence in eastern Ukraine
Meanwhile, conflict is nonstop in eastern Ukraine. Pro-Russian separatists shot down a government helicopter on Tuesday after agreeing to a ceasefire a few days prior.
“It’s really a disturbing situation to watch,” Griffith notes. May’s inauguration of Ukraine’s new president brought hope that the conflict would soon be resolved.
“Instead, what we’ve seen is a continual flare-up of violence.”
According to Russian state media, Russian President Vladimir Putin recently made a request to Parliament to withdraw permission for intervention in Ukraine. But Western leaders have their doubts.
“Regardless of what gets verbally said out of Moscow, I think many [Western leaders] are blaming Russia for destabilizing the situation in Ukraine,” Griffith says.
It doesn’t seem like things will improve anytime soon, he adds.
“That certainly makes what the churches are doing to try to proclaim the peace of the Gospel all the more important.”
Crisis Evangelism Fund
Continual flare-ups of violence are driving families from the battle zone into western Ukraine. Churches in this region are acting as the hands of Christ, caring for refugees’ physical and spiritual needs. Since church finances and resources are stretched incredibly thin, SGA is coming alongside to help.
“We instituted what we’re calling the Crisis Evangelism Fund to help the churches reach out to the people that are affected by this crisis,” Griffith explains.
The fund helps Ukrainian churches in a number of ways. It provides resources for needy families in the church, gives food parcels and Christian literature to refugees, and helps missionary pastors who live in conflict zones.
Lastly, but most importantly, please keep Ukraine in your prayers. “Pray that this crisis would soon be resolved,” Griffith requests.
“Pray for peace and stability to be restored, not only in the eastern regions where the conflict is raging, but also the country as a whole.”