“We need God’s miracle”: Christians in Ukraine plead for united prayer
Kelly Ng // February 25, 2022, 2:26 am
Gunfire and explosions erupting in Ukrainian cities on Feb 24 as Russia invaded Ukraine by land, air and sea in a series of pre-dawn attacks. Screengrab from news footage on BBC.com.
Ukranians were awakened before dawn on Thursday morning (Feb 24) by blaring sirens and rattling gunfire as neighbouring Russia launched a much-feared invasion of its Eastern European neighbour.
News agencies report at least 137 dead and 316 injured after the first day of the full-scale ground invasion and air assault by Russia, with missiles and shelling raining down across Ukraine, displacing 100,000 civilians.
The European Union’s foreign affairs representative Joseph Borrell has described this as “among the darkest hours of Europe since the Second World War”.
Christians in Ukraine are praying for a miracle. Over 80% of the country’s population is Christian, predominantly Eastern Orthodox.
“We knew that this could happen, but didn’t expect it to be real. We need your prayers so that God’s peace will remain in our hearts.”
Tanya G, a mother of three who lives 40 kilometres from the port city of Odessa, spoke to Salt&Light from Ukraine, saying: “At 5am, they started to bomb many cities all around the country, mainly the military zones. It’s almost 3pm now and they have continued to bomb different military facilities.”
Odessa, the third most populous city in Ukraine, is situated along the Black Sea. It is one of the landing points for the Russian troops.
Tanya, a 40-year-old who attends a Jewish Messianic synagogue, added: “We are shocked. We knew that this could happen, but didn’t expect it to be real. We need your prayers so that God’s peace will remain in our hearts.
“We need God’s miracle.”
Meanwhile, humanitarian organisations such as World Vision are making urgent preparations to provide aid where possible.
“Please pray that the conflict will not escalate further and that children and families will be protected from harm.”
Lilian Chung, National Director of World Vision Singapore, told Salt&Light: “As the Ukraine crisis deepens, World Vision’s concern is the risk posed to the most vulnerable – children. To this end, we are preparing contingency plans in case a higher level of humanitarian response becomes necessary.
“We are finalising emergency plans that will be activated should the situation deteriorate further and supporting our office in Romania to be ready to respond, should children and their families be forcibly displaced from Ukraine and need emergency assistance.
“Please pray with us for peace to be restored quickly, that the conflict will not escalate further and that children and families will be protected from harm and kept safe.”
Why is Russia invading Ukraine?
Understanding the context of Thursday’s invasion can help us to better intercede in prayer.
For months, Russia has been building up its military presence, amassing some 200,000 troops along the border of Ukraine.
Ukraine shares borders with Russia, Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, Romania and Moldova. The Black Sea and Sea of Azov lie along its southern border. It was part of the Soviet Union until the union’s collapse in 1991.
For months, Russia has been building up its military presence, amassing some 200,000 troops along the border of Ukraine to exert pressure on the country and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
NATO was created in 1949 after World War II by the United States, Canada, and several Western European nations to provide collective security against the Soviet Union and its growing influence. This happened in the midst of the decades-long Cold War between the Soviet Union and countries in the “West”.
The US and some other NATO states had wanted Ukraine to join the alliance in 2007. This could have led to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, which was then part of Ukraine, in 2014. On 12 June 2020, Ukraine joined NATO’s enhanced opportunity partner interoperability program.
To widespread international opinion that Russia does not respect Ukraine’s sovereignty, Russian President Vladimir Putin put on record that he believes Russians and Ukrainians are “one people, one nation, in fact”.
In June last year, three Protestant churches were banned by authorities in Donetsk and others had their buildings confiscated.
On Monday, Putin recognised Ukraine’s two pro-Russia rebel states of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent, upping the ante on the tensions and impending invasion.
The Kremlin announced on Wednesday that the two separatist states had requested for help from Moscow to stop alleged Ukrainian aggression, paving the way for the military invasion hours later.
Christian organisation, Open Doors, which publishes an annual annual report on Christian persecution worldwide, noted that “Russia’s support of the breakaway regions of Luhansk and Donestk is troubling for Christians in Ukraine. The states imposed rules requiring religious organisations to register. But a December 2019 list of 195 registered religious organisations by the Luhansk authorities showed that no permission had been granted to any Protestant community.
“In June last year, three Protestant churches were banned by authorities in Donetsk and others had their buildings confiscated. In August, books by Charles Spurgeon and Billy Graham were placed on a list of banned “extremist” literature by a court in the Luhansk.”
5 Ways to pray for Ukraine and Russia
Open Doors said in its update yesterday (Feb 24): “No matter what wars, conflict or persecution brings, the Gospel will go on. And part of our role is to pray. Our brothers and sisters in Russia and Ukraine need us to stand with them as this new conflict begins.”
Here are five ways Open Doors suggests we can pray for Ukraine and Russia today:
- Pray for peace. Pray for violence and tension to end, and that leaders on all sides would pursue diplomacy and peace in a way that allows people of all faiths to live in freedom and peace.
- Pray for believers in Ukraine and Russia, to build bridges of love and hope that would transcend any conflict between their countries. Ask that God would work to overcome divisions and that His power would be visible to all.
- Ask that God would open the hearts of leaders in Russia and in areas of Ukraine under Russian control, that they would not restrict the ability of believers to worship God freely.
- When war happens, so many innocent lives are upended and affected. Pray that human rights would be protected and that peace would break out anew in this part of the world.
- Pray that God would work through the diplomacy of countries around the world, and that His peace would prevail.
We are an independent, non-profit organisation that relies on the generosity of our readers, such as yourself, to continue serving the kingdom. Every dollar donated goes directly back into our editorial coverage.
Would you consider partnering with us in our kingdom work by supporting us financially, either as a one-off donation, or a recurring pledge?Support Salt&Light