Ukraine: a war overlooked

(Photo courtesy Russian Ministries)

(Photo courtesy Russian Ministries)

Ukraine (MNN) — Air and anti-tank defense perimeters are being tightened. Shells regularly fall. Gunfire can be heard often.

Sounds like a battle, right? This conflict is nearly a year old. Yet, says Russian Ministries president Sergey Rakhuba, “Nobody wants to recognize it yet, but this is a war between Russia and Ukraine. My family reports that their neighbors are going to help to dig trenches around my hometown, Zaporozhye.”

Front-line towns like Zaporozhye are trying to protect themselves, because Ukraine can’t. Rakhuba says, “Ukraine is a bankrupt country. Now, the global community starts kind of helping them to rebuild their economy and their life. But the Ukraine is a very poor country.” Refugees are flooding into the region only to find a grim situation. “The government failed those people. There’s no support for refugees on behalf of the Ukrainian government.”

Last week, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko asked for help before a joint session of Congress and from President Obama in the Oval Office. Poroshenko left with a promise of $7 million in an aid package, but without the specific help requested.

(Photo courtesy Russia Ministries)

(Photo courtesy Russia Ministries)

This is where the Church comes in. Their “field headquarters is based in Ukraine, in Kiev. Our families and our training centers spread throughout Ukraine are caught right in the middle of that crisis that we’ve been watching growing since last fall,” says Rakhuba. It also means they’re in the right place at the right time to catch those falling through the cracks. “Churches are getting involved, helping Ukrainian soldiers with even, sometimes, uniforms, to buy helmets, to help them to protect, to be safe in the fight.”

More specifically, “The Church brings spiritual, emotional relief. They bring the word of encouragement. We call it a word of ‘hope.’ The Church fills the gap that the government cannot do even materially.”

How? Rakhuba shares one of dozens of similar stories trickling out of the region. “People who managed to escape that area with the bombs and shelling–where the fight is going on–come to the outskirts of Zaporozhye, get out of the car, and start knocking on the doors of homes: ‘Would you be able to provide shelter for us for one or two days until we figure out something more permanent?’

“They come to a Christian home, and the guy takes them to church. The church surrounds this family, they provide food and shelter, and they provide all the resources they need. They provide medicine for them, and they were with three little kids.”

(Photo courtesy Russian Ministries)

(Photo courtesy Russian Ministries)

Wherever they are, the Christians have been working on improving living conditions. “We see the Church has started growing because of the refugees that are looking for places. The government does not support them, but the Church steps in. They fulfill their responsibility to be the ‘salt and the light’ in the midst of crisis.”

With thousands of displaced seeking refuge, resources are being stretched thin. Prayer helps a lot. $25 helps. $50 helps. Rakhuba says these believers are our family. It’s our duty to respond. “Through our ‘I Care’ program, there is a wonderful opportunity to advance the Gospel through providing food packages and Scripture to these needy families. $50 will provide enough food for an entire week, for a family of three to five people, but it also provides a copy of Scripture.”

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