Ukraine (CAM) — As the standoff continues between Crimean and Russian military forces, believers in Ukraine are mounting their own army–a legion of prayer warriors seeking peace and healing in their country. Christian Aid Mission, your link to indigenous missions, says Ukraine’s churches are full of believers on their knees.
“Christians throughout Ukraine are praying and fasting. All churches are overcrowded with people who are coming to seek God’s face and ask for deliverance,” said Rostislav Borishkevich, the director of Good Samaritan Mission in Kiev. “People are crying out to God because they know that only He can help our nation.”
One of the ministry’s churches in Rivne, Ukraine, overflowed with some 2,000 worshipers who gathered Sunday evening for an all-night vigil.
Borishkevich told Christian Aid Mission that the tense situation in Crimea has prompted some Muslims, who make up about 12% of the population, to come to area churches and join in prayer services.
“The Protestant churches are full in Crimea, and a lot of people have started attending services. Last Sunday, our church building was overcrowded with Muslim Tatars and others who have never come before,” said Borishkevich. “We know that our Lord uses every situation to save more people and give them eternal life.”
Believers in Russia are also praying for armed conflict to be averted between their countrymen and their Christian brothers in Ukraine. According to Borishkevich, church leaders from the Baltic area, the Caucasus, Moldova, Belorussia, and Central Asia sent letters this week to Russian officials, stating their desire to restore peace with Ukraine.
Violence erupted in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev in February during clashes between police and anti-government demonstrators, resulting in over 80 deaths and hundreds of injuries. Protestors in many parts of the country voiced displeasure over President Viktor Yanukovych’s government policies and the spurning of the European Union in favor of an economic alliance with Russia.
Ukraine’s Parliament ousted Yanukovych and installed Oleksandr Turchynov, the Parliament Speaker and a Baptist pastor, as the nation’s interim president.
The crisis took another dramatic turn March 1 when Russian troops seized control of the airport, government buildings, and all centers of communication in Crimea without firing a shot. Russian President Vladimir Putin also placed about 150,000 Russian soldiers on alert along the eastern Ukrainian border.
Ukraine, a nation of some 45 million people, has become increasingly divided over its identity. Ethnic Russians in the eastern part of the country support strengthening ties with Russia, while many citizens in western Ukraine favor alignment with Western Europe.
Russia’s military intervention in Crimea has only exacerbated the potentially explosive situation and drawn harsh criticism from world leaders.
Christian Aid works directly with several ministries in Ukraine, assisting them in their efforts to spread the good news of Jesus Christ throughout the region. Their outreach programs include:
- children’s homes
- radio and TV ministry
- distribution of New Testaments
- drug and alcohol rehabilitation
- church planting
- training and discipling Christian leaders
“This is a critical time, and Christian Aid is in a position to directly help these ministries,” said Christian Aid Mission president Cynthia Finley. “Ukrainian believers are suffering from a depressed economy, from anxiety over the uncertainty of their situation, and fear of an invasion, and they are grieving the loss of people they know.
“As they pray night after night for peace in their country, they will be encouraged to know that Christians around the world are praying with them, and that together, our prayers can bring about real change.”