Ukraine (MNN) — It’s no secret that Europe is overflowing with refugees. From Greece to Germany, millions of people are looking for safety and a new start.
Approximately 1.2 million people sought refuge in Europe between 2015 and the start of 2016. Another 105,000 refugees and migrants entered Europe in the first half of 2017, and more than 48,300 came in the first half of 2018. At present, the UNHCR estimates that some 570,000 stateless people in Europe are waiting for their next move.
How is the European Church responding to this influx? It varies by location, but Pierre Houssney of Horizons International points to Ukraine with joy. “Ukraine is really strategic because of the number of churches that are interested in reaching Muslims,” he shares.
Ukraine is hosting thousands of refugees and asylum-seekers, most of whom are from Afghanistan and Syria, as well as large numbers of Muslim immigrants. These individuals brought with them a culture, language, and religion that are completely foreign to most Ukrainian Christians.
Due to their many ‘unfamiliar’ characteristics, Houssney notes, surrounding this population with the love of Christ can be an intimidating endeavor.
“There is a growing amount of Muslims in Ukraine. The Ukrainian Church has just not really known what to do with them.”
Horizons is helping Ukrainian believers bridge cultural and spiritual divides through education and training.
Most of Horizons’ work is focused on Lebanon, the site of its Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Headquarters. However, as explained in this blog post, one of Horizons’ senior leaders has close family ties to Ukraine.
A few months ago, that leader taught a workshop using Horizons’ “Engaging Islam” curriculum. Now, Christian leaders want more.
“It really caused quite a stir, and many of the pastors gained a heart for reaching Muslims,” recalls Houssney.
In response, Horizons’ leadership began developing plans to further support local outreach efforts in Ukraine. They’re hoping that by training local church leaders, those believers can then train others, and the ministry will naturally multiply.
“We’ve got a Russian translation of the curriculum underway so that we can impact the whole Russian-speaking world, which has millions of Muslims…and the number is growing month-by-month.”
Eventually, Houssney says, Horizons would like to expand its Engaging Islam Institute to include Ukraine. Learn more about the Engaging Islam Institute here.
Finally, please pray for Ukrainian believers as they learn how to reach their Muslim neighbors for Christ. And, look around. God may have an opportunity for you.
“[Wherever] we are boldly proclaiming the Gospel to Muslims, we are seeing Muslims come to Christ. So, let’s start doing that, people of God!”
Header image courtesy of Horizons International.