Dear Ministry Friends and Supporters,
With Ukrainian presidential elections scheduled for this Sunday, May 25, violence has sharply escalated in the eastern part of the country, renewing fears that Ukraine is on the verge of civil war. On Thursday, a total of 14 Ukrainian troops were killed and 32 were injured in two separate attacks in the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Sadly, Christians have also become targets of the violence. Today, armed separatists attacked a prayer tent in Donetsk, ripping the tent apart and issuing this threat to those who were praying: “If any Christians come back here tonight to pray, they will all be shot.” Specific threats have also been made against pastors in the cities of Pervomaisk, Lisichansk, Slavyansk and Bryanka, who had to flee the region with their families.
Many speculate that this escalation in violence is an attempt by pro-Russian separatist forces to derail the imminent presidential elections by further destabilizing the situation in the eastern part of the country.
The following is a firsthand account from one of our School Without Walls coordinators that describes the situation in eastern Ukraine as well as how these young Next Generation leaders trained by Russian Ministries are reaching out with the gospel:
“I live in Dimitrov in the Donetsk Region of Ukraine. I love my country and believe that, as a Christian, I must do everything possible to help it flourish and to spread God’s Kingdom. My roots are also from Russia and I can’t help but love the Russian people. I pray and care for Russia and want Christ’s light to reach all corners of that enormous country.
“In Dimitrov and Krasnoarmeisk three weeks ago things were already starting to stir. Government buildings and police stations were seized. They raised a flag of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) above the mayor’s building. Many people with criminal backgrounds have gotten behind the DPR. For some people war is a tragedy, while it puts others in their element. People are scared, and are buying up all of the sugar and flour, in case of war. Most people keep their money in Privat Bank, but the DPR members are robbing Privat Bank’s cash in transit vehicles, so the bank shut down for a while. It has started working again, but they will only issue limited amounts of cash. People are panicking.
“On a positive note, people are more open to the gospel. In churches we are praying a lot. We have had night-long prayer meetings. We ask God to have mercy on our country, not to allow war, and to save many people in our town. Praise God, the Ukrainian army has set up posts around our town. We collected money and took them some basic necessities – razors, soap, socks, water. We also distributed Scriptures. We prayed for them, for God to protect them.
“I recently attended a meeting of pastors of Baptist and Pentecostal churches of our town. Everyone said that they are also praying for Ukraine and hope for peace.
“It is sad that the DPR has announced that they are against all churches other than the Russian Orthodox Church. It is sad that this resonates with a large portion of the population. But for us it is a signal that we have work to do here, that the harvest is ripe, but the workers are few.”
Russian Ministries has been responding to this situation by organizing prayer meetings, providing emergency aid and distributing Scripture throughout the country.
This Sunday also marks the observance of Refugee Sunday. While major Western news outlets are not reporting on this problem, there are now as many as 20,000 refugees fleeing Crimea and the eastern part of Ukraine. Russian Ministries is caring for these refugees by providing food, clothing, temporary housing and the Gospel of Luke through its Emergency Fund.
In light of the growing violence and refugee crisis in Ukraine, Russian Ministries urges the global Christian community to pray that the violence would cease and that the upcoming presidential elections in Ukraine would take place without interference or disruption. Please also consider a generous gift to our Emergency Fund by visiting our website at: www.russian-ministries.org, clicking on the Donate tab, and selecting Emergency Fund from the dropdown menu.
Thank you for your prayers and support during this critical time that may determine the future direction of Ukraine.