Violence not stopping Easter celebrations

(Photo courtesy Slavic Gospel Association)

(Photo courtesy Slavic Gospel Association)

Ukraine (MNN) — “If it’s not theirs, they want it.” That’s the view of retired former supreme commander of NATO Forces General Wesley Clark, speaking about Russia’s view of former Soviet bloc nations.

He says there are up to 9,000 Russian troops taking a leading separatist forces in Eastern Ukraine. Clark says President Putin is trying to take control of Ukraine through what he’s calling hybrid warfare, or terrorism, using Russian mercenaries and thugs to accomplish it. According to Clark, that won’t stop until Russia wins.

That means increasing amount of human catastrophe for Ukrainians living in the east.

“We’re supporting the churches in Ukraine, where they’re taking care of refugees,” says Bob Provost, President of Slavic Gospel Association. “The toll now is over 6,000 killed. Over 1 million are homeless.”

Bob Provost on Ruble fall

President of Slavic Gospel Association Bob Provost.

A new SGA report from a refugee center in Zaporizhia, Ukraine, indicates “they’re receiving 150 new people every day. Many of them are single mothers with children–lots of babies. That’s about 1,000 people every week coming to one refugee center looking for food, clothing, diapers, and medicine.”

In addition, “They all are counseled. They are receiving the Gospel,” says Provost.

Oppression isn’t getting in the way of Easter celebrations in both in Russia and Ukraine. “These evangelical Christians, who paid such a high price for their faith, would celebrate Easter until they celebrated the Day of Pentecost, 50 days after Passover [six weeks after Easter].”

You’d never guess that atheism in the former Soviet Union would eventually mean people would really ‘get’ what Easter is about. Provost says Communism robbed people of hope. Now that they have freedom, EVERYBODY knows how to celebrate it. He took a survey on a subway, asking: “Do you know what today is?” Provost says, “Everybody said ‘Christos Voskrese!’  which means ‘Christ arose!’ It was really incredible.”

Is it only a church celebration? Provost says, “It isn’t just the church community; it’s the whole country that understands that Christ arose. There was no confusion. That’s a great blessing that somehow, the Communists kept the Easter bunny away.”

That celebration will be even more profound in Zaparizhia. “At the one refugee center, a church has been planted with 50 members. It was planted back in December,” says Provost.

It’s also providing help to the displaced. “It’s providing Bibles for them, its providing food packs. Diapers are in great need. One refugee center is giving out about 50 packs of 32 diapers every day.”

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