Ukraine (MNN) — Ukraine elections are producing a mix of hope and uncertainty. For the first time since 1991, Ukraine is likely to lack a Communist voice in its Parliament. However, newly-elected leaders are facing a series of big decisions, which could further divide the country.
And, “It’s been a very, very tense situation in Ukraine for the past several months,” adds Joel Griffith of Slavic Gospel Association (SGA).
“A lot of violent conflict; people have lost their lives. There’s an enormous refugee crisis that continues right now.”
Ukraine elections: a reason to hope
The latest exit polls show pro-Western parties with a significant lead in Sunday’s Parliamentary elections. Final results will reportedly be announced on Thursday.
“That does bode a hopeful side, because if they’re pro-Western, they’re obviously going to be pro-freedom,” says Griffith. “Of all the former Soviet republics, Ukraine has been the freest, and this seems to indicate that that’s going to continue.”
There are a few factors to consider, though. Millions of eligible voters in rebel-held territory and Crimea failed to cast a vote. In addition, pro-Russian separatists claim they’re holding their own elections next month, according to BBC News.
While Russia seems to be losing its influence in the country’s Parliament, state-controlled news agencies quote a favorable response to Ukraine elections from Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov.
“I think we will recognize this election because it is very important for us that Ukraine finally will have authorities which do not fight one another, do not drag Ukraine to the West or to the East, but which will deal with the real problems facing the country,” Lavrov is quoted by the RIA as saying.
Whether this position is true, and not just “lip-service,” remains to be seen. On Friday, Russian President Putin admitted to helping former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych flee the country in February. According to Reuters, NATO says Russia is still helping separatists in eastern Ukraine by sending soldiers and equipment.
“How are [the] eastern regions [of Ukraine] going to respond to the results once they are finalized? What will Russia do in the long-term?” asks Griffith.
These are just some of the questions raised by the Ukraine elections, which will only be answered in time, he notes. But, SGA remains focused on helping Ukraine churches respond to that crisis, and there are a few ways you can help.
According to some of the latest available statistics, nearly 4,000 people have been killed during the ongoing Ukraine unrest. Approximately 800,000 people have been forced to flee their homes and seek refuge elsewhere in Ukraine, or in one of the neighboring countries.
As a harsh winter approaches, this situation will likely grow more dire.
“These are very real human needs that are going to be ongoing,” Griffith notes.
SGA’s Crisis Evangelism Fund helps Ukrainian churches distribute much-needed food aid, as well as Bibles, Christian literature, and other essentials. Most important of all, distressed families and individuals hear the life-changing Gospel and experience the love of Christ. The Crisis Evangelism Fund helps Ukrainian Christians make an eternal difference in the lives of men, women, and children whose hearts have been broken by what has happened to their lives and to their country.
“These are people whose lives have been shattered, turned upside-down. They don’t know what the future of their country’s going to be; they’re not even quite sure what their own future’s going to be,” says Griffith.
“But when you can give them the hope of the Gospel, when you can meet their physical needs…that’s a hope that has to be provided.”
Most importantly, continue to pray for the Ukraine crisis. Pray for peace in Ukraine. Ask the Lord to guide and direct the country’s newly-elected leaders. Pray for protection and wisdom for those helping refugees in Christ’s name.