Ukraine (MNN) — The recovered bodies and flight recorders of Malaysia Flight 17 have been turned over to the proper authorities, but the propaganda wars continue. Ukrainian government officials blame Russia for shooting down the commercial flight, while Russia blames Ukraine.
This unusual war in Eastern Ukraine is also having other consequences: the evangelical community is being targeted.
President of Russian Ministries Sergey Rakhuba says, “They believe that evangelical churches are their enemies. In one of the towns, they even raised the Orthodox flag and said they would fight any heretic, any protestant, anyone who represents any western immoral values.”
Many evangelicals have been attacked, including four men who were killed a few weeks ago. Rakhuba says a childhood friend was targeted Monday when Russian Separatists stopped his car in Donetsk. “When they found a notebook that he was a believer, a leader in the local church, that’s when they started creating more pressure, put him against the wall and said, You represent all this pro-western, anti-eastern Ukraine, anti-Russian networks. If you don’t tell us all that you do against us, we will just shoot you right now.'”
Fortunately, Ukrainian forces trying to regain control of Donetsk began engaging the separatists, and Rakhuba’s friend was able to get away.
While many people living in Eastern Ukraine are displaced, Rakhuba says some evangelicals pastors are still in the region. One pastor told him, “‘I’m staying here because I cannot abandon my flock. I cannot abandon those who are trapped here.’ There are hundreds of pastors that are doing the same thing.”
The situation is desperate in these areas. “People are trying in Lugansk or Donetsk and those areas to find a safe area where they can hide from flying bullets, from bomb-shells that fall in their backyard.”
The economy is in shambles. Many can’t work because of the fighting. Grocery stories are closed. People are desperate. Russian Ministries is lending aid through their I Care food distribution program. “We are raising money for 5,000 food packs, $50 each, which will provide food for one refugee family for an entire week.”
Scripture is also distributed with the food packs. Rakhuba says evangelicals are making a difference. Those they’re serving say, “We thought you were a foreign sect. And now, we see that you’re truly God’s church. You’re truly the messengers, the ambassadors of God in our community.”
Many are turning to Christ and joining evangelical churches.