Farmington Hills, MI (PRWEB) March 06, 2014
For the past several weeks, the eyes of the world have turned to the bloody conflict in Ukraine between government special forces and citizens protesting rampant corruption. However, little attention has been given to the role that the evangelical church and Christians have played in offering relief and calling for peace.
SEND International’s Ukraine Area Director, Eric Oldenburg, has been a missionary in Ukraine for ten years. He put out a call to recognize and pray for the many believers who are living out the Gospel in this time of great conflict in Ukraine, and he shared the stories of just some of the people who have been involved.
He wrote about a Ukrainian sister who, from the very first days of Maidan (the square where the main protests took place), took money, food and supplies to the protest site. She distributed hot tea to the cold and sandwiches to the hungry. She reported that she's never in her lifetime seen Ukrainians so united. It still drives her to pray for a positive outcome to this conflict so that the country can move forward politically and economically. But with even more fervency she prays that Ukrainians will grow in their receptivity to the Gospel.
Eric also mentioned a Ukrainian pastor who, from the pulpit of his local church, preached on how Christians are to behave themselves in a time of conflict with prayer, participation, good deeds, wise words and the sharing of the Gospel. He also lived out his message by spending significant time at Maidan doing the very things he preached. During one overnight shift in the prayer tent, he had personal conversations and times of prayer with over 50 people, at least 30 of them were unbelievers, politically passionate enough to be at Maidan, but spiritually open enough to ask a pastor for counsel and prayer.
There was also a Ukrainian professor who preached God's Word to tens of thousands of people from the stage at Maidan. After the deaths, Orthodox and Catholic priests performed funeral rites and rituals, but the Spiritual Parliament of Maidan also asked Protestants to preach God's truth to the hurting people. On the Saturday following the February 20 conflict known as Bloody Thursday, this brother preached from John 15:13: "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends." He declared that the tragedy of the loss of at least 77 lives will be wasted if the result is not the removal of corruption on a nationwide scale. He preached again the following Tuesday from Luke 6:39-49 on the nature of corruption, that it is located in the human heart. “We must deal with our own corruption if we want to see corruption in Ukraine eradicated,” he said. He closed the message by accentuating that the only sure foundation upon which Ukrainians can rebuild their country is the words and work of Jesus.
Eric also reported about many Ukrainian brothers and sisters who have participated in the actual defense against the attacks of the government special forces. One brother works in a downtown office that was turned into a resting place for members of the opposition. This brother and his coworkers would switch off between taking shifts at the protest site and helping those who came to their office. Having finished a night shift on the street from Wednesday night to Thursday morning, he left for home to rest and be with his family. That morning, violence erupted and lead to many deaths. Now this brother carries the guilt of having not been at Maidan as his friends and countrymen were injured and died. He weeps tears of sorrow as he holds the hand of his friend, whose other hand has been blown off. He wonders why this happened to his friend and not to him. Yet he also weeps tears of joy as he retells the miracles that God worked in the heat of the conflict. Why was it that any time the opposition built a barricade of flaming tires, the wind always blew the smoke towards the special forces and never back on them, regardless of what direction the barricades faced?
The evangelical church is not silent during this historical crisis in Ukraine. Believers who love God and have been transformed by the Gospel of Jesus are making a Kingdom impact at Maidan in the power of the Holy Spirit. Eric Oldenburg and other SEND missionaries count it a privilege and an honor to call these men and women brothers and sisters in Christ and to serve them as they give their all to see their country move on a path toward peace, justice and righteousness.
SEND’s Ukraine missionaries remain in Ukraine but are on high alert to potentially evacuate and regroup elsewhere in Europe. They ask for continued prayer for Ukraine—for wisdom and peace.
SEND International is an interdenominational faith mission agency with around 600 missionaries in more than 20 areas of Asia, Eurasia, Europe and North America. SEND’s mission is to mobilize God’s people and engage the unreached in order to establish reproducing churches. SEND members are multinational and are recruited and sent from sending offices and partner agencies around the world. For more information on SEND’s mission and ministries, visit http://www.send.org.