Friday, May 16, 2014

Crisis Evangelism in Ukraine

Looks like I'm in one of my busy periods and neglecting the blog more than usual. But I'm posting today to encourage my fellow Christian believers to support a very worthy cause.

If you've been following the news of late, you've heard about the tragic situation in Ukraine—a former Soviet country often called "the breadbasket of Europe" because of its fertile soil and agricultural production. Ukraine has been rattled by political violence and bloodshed since late last year, when former president Viktor Yanukovich abandoned an economic pact with the European Union in favor of Russia. Angry protests broke out in the capital of Kiev, followed by an attempted government crackdown. More than were 100 killed in that violence, and shortly after, Yanukovich was overthrown.

Tensions with neighboring Russia followed immediately. Russia considers Ukraine a vital national interest, and culturally, traces its origins to the Kievan Rus. Ukraine became independent when the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, but Russia retained strong influence over Ukrainian affairs. After Yanukovich's ouster, Russia moved into Ukraine's Crimea region, where they maintain a Black Sea naval base. Eventually, Russia annexed Crimea—a controversial move that brought condemnation from the West and heightened tensions to near Cold War levels.

Since then, violence has continued in eastern Ukraine, which is more culturally tied to Russia than the western half of the country where people are more aligned to Europe. Refugees have flooded into western Ukraine from the east and Crimea. Evangelical churches in the country are deeply concerned about the violence, and because the acting president is an evangelical Baptist (itself a first for a former Soviet country), leaders in other CIS nations are falsely blaming Baptists for the unrest. Russian and Ukrainian Christians feel the pressures, yet they realize that their ultimate citizenship is in the kingdom of heaven, and even as they are caught amid the turmoil themselves and are suffering consequences with their countrymen, their desire is to reach out to their hurting people with Christ's love. And that leads me to the purpose of this post.

Most Ukrainian evangelical churches have few resources for the type of massive ministry that takes place here in North America. Yet they want to reach out and seize this opportunity to share Christ. In response to their need, the 80-year-old Slavic Gospel Association has created the Crisis Evangelism Fund to help them in a variety of ways, including food, support of crisis evangelism teams from Ukrainian churches to help pastors and churches in the conflict zones, ministry to refugees, and other means. If you want to find out more and to help, you can click here for SGA's special landing page created to raise awareness and support.

Please prayerfully consider what you can do to help. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is ultimately the only thing that will bring true peace and reconciliation.

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