Ukraine (MNN) — Seven Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in an ambush by pro-Russian insurgents, just as talks began between Ukrainian, Russian, and European leaders.
According to authorities about 30 rebels, who had taken cover among bushes along a river, attacked with grenade-launchers and automatic weapons, immediately killing two soldiers and wounding three others. It appears the Ukraine conflict is escalating.
Meanwhile, talks in Kiev featuring Ukrainian and Russian leaders as well as the Organization for Security and Co-operation and Europe began with the hopes of seeing the separatists disarm and improving the atmosphere for the presidential election May 25.
Slavic Gospel Association support evangelical churches in both countries, where the congregations are made up of both ethnic Russians and ethnic Ukrainians. SGA’s Joel Griffith says Baptists are in a bad spot right now. “The current acting president of Ukraine is a Baptist evangelical himself. Baptists are being falsely blamed for this situation in Ukraine right now, and the churches are encountering some pressure because of it.”
Griffith says it’s heartbreaking because Baptists want peace, and they want people to know about Jesus.
Other countries in the region are also concerned. “What is the potential for this to possibly spread to other former Soviet nations? Moldova wants stronger ties with the E-U. And Georgia is now wanting to sign an association agreement with the European Union.” This is what sparked Russia’s response.
In these types of situations, people’s hearts are most open to hearing about Jesus. “When there are great times of upheaval in our lives, it’s certainly a time when people start questioning their lives and question what their ultimate values are.”
Churches in the region want to take advantage of open hearts, but lack of funding makes that difficult. SGA is helping with that through their Crisis Evangelism Fund. “We want to be able to give the churches on the ground the resources they need to respond most effectively, not only with physical help, but also to reach out in love with the Gospel.”
The fund will help provide for the needs of refugees from Crimea and other regions and support pastors in crisis areas while helping with Bible and other Christian literature distribution.
What does the future hold for churches in many of these former Soviet bloc nations?
If Russia begins invading, Griffith says it could mean a significant change in religious freedom. These nations have known freedom for 26 years, since the fall of the Soviet Union. “The churches there know what it’s like to live under persecution. They know what it’s like to have to conduct their ministries in very restrictive situations. So I’m positive, no matter what comes up, that those churches are going to be dedicated to getting the Gospel out no matter what it takes.”
Support SGA’s Crisis Evangelism Fund today. A gift of $50, $100, $1,000, or even more will help fund the work in Ukrainian churches.