Monthly Archives

March 2014

Russian commentary no empathy, no truth

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Mission Network News has learned that there is a growing conflict between Russian evangelical Christians and Ukrainian evangelical Christians. The accusations between the two sides are astounding. 

On March 9, Dr. William Yoder (no relationship to me, that I know of) wrote an article and commentary about the schism between the two. Unfortunately, he sided with the Russian pro-Putin church. 

I’ve decided to give equal time to Ukrainian evangelical church who are in the cross-hairs of Yoder. Here is the response to Yoder’s accusations. 

Ukrainian Christians believe some Russian Christians are aligning themselves with pro-Putin radicals in Russia. Russian Christians are accusing Ukrainian Christians be being ultra-nationalist revolutionaries. Dr. William Yoder, representing the interests of the Russian Baptist Union, came to the defense of Russian policy regarding Ukraine.

In his mailing on March 18th, 2014 he criticized the Ukrainian Maidan protesters and their defenders for not being democratic enough, and not waiting for the next elections, but instead seizing power and provoking the secession of the Crimea.

Additionally, Yoder compares Ukraine’s claims to the Crimea to a former spouse, who was never actually legally married, but after splitting up claims a right to the other’s belongings. Crimea was given away by Khruschev illegally in 1954, therefore no one owes Ukraine anything.

 

Justifying Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine, Yoder criticizes Ukrainian church leaders who have come to the defense of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of their country. He corrects of the vice president of the Ukrainian Baptist Union, Valery Antonyuk, and states that Kiev Protestants have no right to talk about their country’s integrity because the eastern part of the country wants to be part of Russia.

 

He also commented on the “illegal” interim government of Ukraine and acting president Oleksandr Turchynov, a Baptist, who is supposedly hurting the reputation of Baptists in Russia. William Yoder defends Yanukovych’s regime from accusations of cruelty by saying, “Was Yanukovich’s administration more despicable than Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge?” It seems that all regimes any less despicable than the Khmer Rouge must be acknowledged as fully democratic.

 

But the height of cynicism from Yoder’s side was his criticism of a Christian organization for supporting the family of Alexander Khropachenko, who was killed by a sniper on the Maidan. Yoder believes that this is evidence of one-sided sympathies. Yoder suggests equal assistance for the families of police who lost their lives (who killed over 100 Maidan activists and injured hundreds more), in order to show a non-partisan and peacemaking front. And because some of the ministry’s leaders took a clear stand on the side of the unarmed protesters instead of the armed killers, Yoder accused them of criticism of Russia and anti-Russian viewpoints. However there is a distinction between disagreement between Russia’s policy, which is natural for the civilized world, and truly unacceptable Russophobia.

 

The commentary of Dr. William Yoder is a mix of naïve faith in the authority of Russia, loyalty to his employers, and lack of understanding in the sphere of politics, history, and culture. You cannot talk about peacemaking while avoiding the truth and failing to distinguish between the aggressor and the victim, right and wrong. Peace can only be achieved after truth – acknowledgement of and repentance from crimes committed. Therefore the comments of William Yoder should have begun with an acknowledgement of the obvious fact of Russian intervention, without which everything written is a manipulation of facts. But what is even more noticeable and sad is his lack of empathy and sympathy for the tragic events in Ukraine. It is a bad sign – without empathy you cannot hope to come to the truth, let alone achieve peace.

 

M. Kuznetsov

world water day

Special Report: World Water Day

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world water day

Gospel for Asia “Jesus Wells” are drilled deep enough so that the water supply doesn’t dry up during hot, arid summer months.
(Image, caption courtesy GFA)

South Asia (MNN/GFA) — Today on World Water Day, our friends at Gospel for Asia share the following report:

Millions across Asia are considered Dalits or “Untouchables,” those deemed inferior simply because of their caste. “Untouchables” are likely barred from using village water wells, placing these individuals and families in desperate and life-threatening situations.

Gospel for Asia plans to drill 5,000 water wells across India and South Asia over the course of 2014 for those struggling to find clean water.  GFA is highlighting its “Jesus Wells” ministry today on World Water Day.

Jesus Wells are often the only water option for “Untouchables” and countless others. The wells not only provide critical access to drinking water, but they also ensure villagers have clean water essential for cooking and other necessary household chores.

“It is our heart to provide clean water to all people regardless of their background,” said Dr. K. P. Yohannan, founder and international director of Gospel for Asia. “Wherever we place our ‘Jesus Wells,’ all people can drink clean water freely.”

An adequate water supply is not only a challenge for Dalits. Millions of others across Asia struggle daily to find sufficient water resources. Traditional village wells often dry up because they were not drilled deep enough. Or they dry up during the hot, arid summer months, putting entire villages at risk. It’s also common for families to walk several miles just to find enough water for basic household needs.

To help address these challenges, Jesus Wells are drilled deep into the ground. They are strategically placed in villages accessible to the greatest number of people. In addition, local contractors are hired to drill numerous wells at a time, ensuring great cost savings.
 
In Andhra Pradesh, India, one GFA worker said the summer drought is a crisis point for his village. They have to wait more than six months for the rain to arrive again. In another village, a GFA worker said people travel at least four miles during the summer to the closest village to retrieve water.
 
The 5,000 wells GFA plans to dig this year will help address water scarcity for tens of thousands. As villagers receive this precious gift of water, they are able to experience the love of Christ, and they seek to learn more about Him.

Through the Jesus Wells project, hundreds of villages have already received clean water for all in the community. Village life has literally been transformed. By the end of 2014, GFA hopes many more villages will find respite from their thirst.  

“I am so grateful for every village that can now have access to clean water for all,” said Yohannan. “It’s another opportunity for people to experience the love of Jesus and know His grace in their lives.”

Donations to the project can be made and additional information is available at www.gfa.org/water.

Ukraine In Crisis

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Ukraine (MNN) — I have been watching with dismay the situation in Ukraine. The ouster of the government, now the Russian troops that have invaded Crimea, and now an illegal referendum vote, have left the region in chaos. This is Ukraine in crisis.

(Image courtesy Sergey Rakhuba via Facebook)

(Image courtesy Sergey Rakhuba via Facebook)

It reminds me a little of the Cold War days when the Soviet Union would do things that were only in their interests, not the interests of the people. This situation, though, could have serious repercussions for the world both politically and spiritually. How?

Let’s talk about the political side first. Ukraine is wrestling with a new government that has basically divided the country. The pro-Ukrainian side appears to outnumber the pro-Russia side. Unfortunately that divide could  cause the country to lose a portion of a treasured region, Crimea. This pro-Russian mindset may be the spark of sussession. Ukraine is mobilizing troops to try and defend its sovereignty, but they don’t stand a chance.

That leads to other questions. If Ukraine attempts to defend itself, will it ask for help from the United States and he European Union? If those nations respond, will China get involved? If the United States assists Ukraine, what will that mean for the future of USA/Russian relations?

If the United States and the EU are asked to help and they don’t, what kind of message are we sending to the rest of the world? Is it a sign of weakness? Is is a sign of disinterest? Will Ukraine ultimately fall into Russian hands, creating another Soviet-like state? If the U.S. doesn’t respond, will this be the end of U.S. Influence in the region? Will Russia continue it’s invasion into Ukraine, eventually taking over the entire country?

On the spiritual side, the crisis in Ukraine is creating an uncertainty that this generation in Ukraine hasn’t seen before. Openness to the Gospel has never been better. Russia has a similar openness, which I witnessed while I was in Russia this past week.

Will the strained relations between Russia and the U.S. prevent American Christians from being able to go to Russia to help people understand the Gospel? Will short-term mission trips to socially needy parts of the country end?

These are all questions that have no answers, yet. Because there are so many questions we MUST pray. Don’t just pray for the country, pray specifically for the following:
1. Pray that Russia will leave Crimea and that peace would be restored to a sovereign nation.
2. Pray the newly appointed Ukrainian government will be given wisdom from God to be able to handle this difficult situation.
3. Pray that God would use this uncertainty to help Christians share the certainty that can only come though the Gospel.
4. Pray that the EU and the USA would be used by God to help the situation end it peace.
5. Pray each nation’s leadership would be given divine inspiration on what they should do.
6. Pray that God would use this crisis to lead entire cities and communities to Christ.
7. Pray that planned ministries would be allowed to move forward despite the uncertainty.
While these are the requests of men, pray that these requests are also the desires of our Might And Holy God.

Mission Network News will continue to cover the unfolding situation in Ukraine, including the Crimean Penninsula.