It’s so easy to lose sight of God and His goodness during a time of crisis.
Fighting, fleeing, watching their homes get destroyed or their loved ones die… Ukrainians have suffered much violence since Russian troops advanced on their country a week ago.
The last couple of days have been especially turbulent and traumatic for the people of Ukraine.
But it’s heartening to see that local Christians are being a beacon of God’s hope and light in the darkness.
We want to build the church, say Ukrainian pastors
One such person is Yura Ravnushkin, the Lead Pastor of Hillsong Church in Ukraine.
Recognising the country’s need for Christ, he is trying to find a way to continue God’s work in the country.
“Everything is changing here very quickly from hour to hour, and it’s hard to say many details about our life right now here. But at the same time, our team is trying to be safe as much as we can,” he said in a video posted on Hillsong’s Instagram page.
“Not everybody wants to leave Ukraine,” he added.
“We want to stay in our country. We want to build (the) church here. We want to preach the gospel here, so… we’re trying to find a way how we can help people.”
Requesting for the Church to pray, he asked: “I want to ask you to keep praying for us because we want to be the light in these dark days. And we want to be the hands and feet of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Staying on to serve
Yuri is just one of many Ukrainian pastors who have chosen not to leave.
Vasyl Ostryi, another pastor at the Irpin Bible Church near the city of Kyiv, is also staying on to offer humanitarian aid and hope.
“While the church may not fight like the nation, we still believe we have a role to play in this struggle,” wrote the Kyiv Theological Seminary professor in an article for The Gospel Coalition.
“We will shelter the weak, serve the suffering and mend the broken. And as we do, we offer the unshakable hope of Christ and his gospel.”
“We have decided to stay, both as a family and as a church,” said the father of four. “When this is over, the citizens of Kyiv will remember how Christians have responded in their time of need.”
Other Ukrainian churches have also been proactively responding to the practical needs on the ground.
From opening up their premises to provide a safe place for those who are seeking shelter, to supplying refugees with emergency kits and basic necessities.
One church in Kamyanka, south of the capital, even offered first-air training after its Sunday service to equip its congregation with skills to care for the wounded.
At this same church, instead of the usual sermon, people were offered time to share their war testimonies, even as they exhorted others to have faith.
Weary Ukrainians are praying for their country
While the situation in Ukraine is dire, Ukrainian Christians have not lost sight of hope, as they turn to God and pray for divine intervention.
“The whole church prayed on their knees for our president, our country and for peace,” Pastor Vadym Kulynchenko told Christianity Today of his church in Kamyanka.
In desperation, many are lifting up their troubles to God through both private and public acts of intercession.
Various posts of people gathering in the city streets to worship and pray together have been circulating all over social media.
When news of an invasion was impending, Ukrainian Christians could be seen singing hymns in public, while churches continued to declare the peace of Jesus during their Sunday worship services.
But make no mistake — many in Ukraine are weary, even as rumours of war began swirling last month.
“I was on the phone this evening with a number of very close Ukrainian friends who are just emotionally exhausted. They are psychologically worn out,” said CBN’s George Thomas, who is based in Ukraine.
“They have been dealing with war for the last eight years, and the news of a potential invasion just really hits very close.”
After all, this is not the first time that both countries have been embroiled in conflict.
Although Ukraine has been independent from Russia since 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union, there has been tension between the two countries since 2008, when Ukraine was promised NATO membership.
In 2014, Russian troops annexed the Crimean Peninsula, and armed conflict has been going on in Eastern Ukraine, with ordinary civilians bearing the brunt.
Even then, many have decided to move towards the front lines instead of fleeing from it over the years (for instance, see how these hero pastors of Ukraine demonstrated bold faith).
What can we learn from the Ukrainian church?
Light does indeed shine the brightest in the darkness. How beautiful it is to see the Ukrainian Christians’ steadfast hope in God even as they exalt God above their problems.
Like the Ukrainian Church, we must also learn to become a living testimony of God’s goodness; we can extend a helping hand towards the needs around us.
While Christians across the world might feel like helpless spectators watching the action from afar, we can still be agents of change.
While we’re unable to be physically there for people of Ukraine, we can still give towards humanitarian aid.
And most importantly, the most powerful weapon at our disposal is prayer.
There is a song titled “Battle Belongs” by Phil Wickham where the lyrics go:
So when I fight, I’ll fight on my knees
With my hands lifted high
Oh God, the battle belongs to You
And every fear I lay at Your feet
I’ll sing through the night
Oh God, the battle belongs to You
The power of intercessory prayer cannot be understated. A little mustard seed of faith can move mountains!
As we continue to pray for Ukraine, let’s cling on to God’s unshakeable power and trust that He will intervene.
Just as the Ukrainians have been praying against all odds for a miracle, we must also learn to worship amid adversity and uncertainty, anchored on the unwavering sovereignty of God.
- Have you become apathetic to the situation in Ukraine or grown numb to bad news? Pray for Ukraine!
- Is there an area in your life where you need to hold on to hope and trust in God’s sovereignty for?
- How can you serve boldly where God has placed you?