Ukraine (MNN) — Ukraine is back in the headlines: it’s the center of G7 talks in Brussels, the country’s new President is being sworn in on Saturday, and to top it all off, violent fighting continues daily in the country’s eastern region.
Where does all of this leave the Church?
“Within Ukraine, when you’ve got all this unrest and all the fighting going on, the churches certainly are concerned,” shares Joel Griffith of Slavic Gospel Association (SGA).
And,just like the crisis itself, believers’ concerns are multi-dimensional.
G8 becomes G7
Ukraine is taking the spotlight in this week’s G7 talks. For the first time in 17 years, these discussions are being held without Russia–purposely left out for its role in the Crimea annexation. The annual summit was originally to be held in Sochi, but after Russia’s temporary suspension, it was moved back to Brussels.
According to the EU’s Web site, “Leaders will discuss the situation in Ukraine and the relations with Russia, as well as other foreign policy issues, the global economy, energy, climate change, and development.”
G7 leaders are expected to discuss ways European countries can free themselves from dependence on Russia for energy supplies such as gas and oil. As world leaders strategize, Ukraine’s new leader prepares to take the helm.
On Saturday, June 7, an official inauguration will usher in Ukraine’s newly-elected President, Petro Poroshenko. The event will reportedly take place at Kiev’s central “Maidan” Square–the scene of the massive protests that eventually ousted the government of former president Viktor Yanukovich.
While Poroshenko has expressed support of efforts to take back cities under Russian separatist control, Griffith explains, the new leader is also trying to restore relationships with Moscow.
“Not only churches but also the people in general are taking a ‘wait and see’ attitude as to what happens,” Griffith notes. “It’s going to be really interesting to see what happens after Saturday, June 7, when President Poroshenko is inaugurated.”
Nonetheless, in the minds of Ukrainian churches and believers, sharing the Gospel and making sure their people are safe still holds higher priority.
As the U.S. pledged its support of Ukraine during a midweek meeting in Poland, there was a notable uptick in eastern Ukraine violence.
In industrial Luhansk, Russian separatists took hold of two Ukrainian military posts. Officials told the Associated Press that six rebels were killed and three Ukrainian servicemen were injured in the attack. Less than 100 miles away in Krasny Liman, rockets were launched at a hospital and railway station.
Griffith says as families flee the ongoing violence in eastern Ukraine, they join Crimean Tatar refugees already taking shelter in safer regions of the country.
“There’s sort of a ‘double-pronged’ situation there,” he notes. “[There are] a lot of distressed families and individuals who’ve never heard the Gospel, and this is an opportunity [to share it with them] as they’re facing great needs and are also wondering what the future of their country is.
“Churches want to meet their physical needs, but they also want to meet their spiritual needs through the Gospel.”
That’s where you and SGA’s Crisis Evangelism Fund come in.
“It will help local pastors who have few resources, and it will enable their churches to distribute food aid, Bibles, Christian literature, and other essentials as needed,” explains Griffith.
“For example, $15 could provide a food pack that contains things like flour, cooking oil, pasta, and other staples, plus Christian evangelistic literature.”
Most importantly, continue to pray for the situation in Ukraine.
“What we’re seeing here is the wickedness of the human heart come out as this conflict rages on,” says Griffith. “The Gospel is the only thing that will bring ultimate peace, and God is the only One that can change the human heart.”
Pray that SGA can provide churches with the resources they need. Ask God to give believers the words they need to communicate His love with hurting families.
“Let’s pray that this crisis will soon begin to wind down, and peace and stability can be restored to Ukraine,” adds Griffith.