Russia claims it was to root out ISIL, ISIS, and “other” terror groups. The problem is: not many trust what Russia is saying because it doesn’t match what it is doing.
The military juggernaut released plans that read like an apocalyptic novel. Mission Eurasia’s Sergey Rakhuba clarifies it as a reality far more grave than a fictional story about the end of the world. [SIC] “This is close to Judgment Day, as Christians call it, according to Ezekiel 38 (The Lord’s Great Victory over the Nations). So there is lots of unrest, lots of concern, and lots of prayer.”
Russia’s decision to launch airstrikes in Syria took a lot of people by surprise, adds Rakhuba. “The Russian-speaking world was shocked when they saw that Russia started bombing the rebels–they say the ISIS positions in Syria.” Although Russia insisted they were out to support the Assad regime, Rakhuba says, “We see that actually, the territories where anti-Syrian government rebel groups are concentrated and there were lots of casualties there.”
Ukraine was especially alarmed. “Lots of Ukrainians–those who see that Russia was trying to grab some of the Ukrainian territories in eastern Ukraine and Russia that annexed the Crimean peninsula–see that Russia is not going to stop expanding its influence.” Rakhuba says that even now, Russia continues to push at its borders with Ukraine. Fighting hasn’t stopped in the hot spot areas, but no one seems to be paying attention anymore. He points out that “Russia was supporting all the separatist movements in Ukraine and was very much supplying all the power and getting behind those pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, [and] annexed Crimea.”
“People are very much concerned that there could be even more expansion, so people are praying so that God gives wisdom to the leaders who are involved in such crucial decisions that make such huge global changes.” Sadly, this too is a matter which proves divisive between believers in Ukraine and Russia, notes Rakhuba. The struggle for unity is fragile as nationalism surges forward. It doesn’t help that “the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church supported the Russian military action and the expansion and involvement in the Middle East and Syria.”
Mission Eurasia has been trying to build bridges between believers in Russia and Ukraine. They offer School Without Walls (SWW) to help. SWW’s mission is to train and equip the Next Generation of Christian leaders in the former Soviet Union to reach out effectively through their churches with the Gospel.
Through this non-formal, flexible program, more than 2,500 young leaders in 13 countries of the former Soviet Union and Israel annually obtain the biblical foundation and practical ministry experience they need to impact their communities and nations for Christ.
A new component of SWW is the Next Generation Professional Leaders Initiative (NGPLI), which is designed to train at least 1,000 young professionals annually to reach their peers and professional spheres of influence for Christ.
For now, Russia, Iran, and China are moving into Syria. Rakhuba says there is one thing we can do. “Pray for wisdom. Pray for how the Church can get involved in its praying and supporting those who suffer.”