Mariupol, Ukraine home of renewed conflict

By January 27, 2015
The fighting in eastern Ukraine has shattered the lives of many, and has resulted in thousands of refugees. (Photo and caption courtesy of Slavic Gospel Association).

The fighting in eastern Ukraine has shattered the lives of many and has resulted in thousands of refugees.
(Photo and caption courtesy of Slavic Gospel Association).

Ukraine (MNN) — Over the weekend, tensions flared into violence once more in Ukraine. The events taking place were the most violent violation of the ceasefire established last September.

Joel Griffith of Slavic Gospel Association relates the conflict to one in our recent past: “It’s almost seeming like it’s going back to the days of the Cold War when you had this kind of back and forth going on.”

However, some believe that the conflict has re-launched the war.

Fighting begins again

“This all got sparked over the weekend where, allegedly, Russian-backed rebels were pushing forward into the city of Mariupol,” says Griffith.

He continues, “Reports have come in that there had been rocket fire hitting the city, and one of the allegations coming from the Ukrainian side was that some residential areas had been hit.”

These reports say nearly 30 people were killed by the rockets.

Griffith explains the tension between Russia and Ukraine that is witnessed through the Russian-backed rebel forces: “You have [news agencies reporting] that these militants have pushed forward with the new offenses, and apparently they’re calling it all-out war back in Eastern Ukraine.

“Western governments including the United States are starting to threaten tighter Western sanctions on Moscow.”

Meanwhile, Griffith says, Moscow refuses to admit that they have any military involvement in the attacks.

Caught in the Middle

Griffith says the violence over the weekend was a renewed sign that this conflict isn’t going to change anytime soon, nor will the needs disappear. Regardless of the politics and the “who’s right, who’s wrong,” SGA knows one thing: there are hurting and needy people caught in the middle who need help.

“It’s just a very dangerous situation, and certainly, of course, our concern is the evangelical churches in these regions who are trying their best to minister Christ’s love to their people and to assist refugees,” Griffith explains.

These people have lost family, homes, and any sort of security that life will be normal again.

BBC recently updated statistics regarding this conflict. They say over a million people are displaced into both Russia and Western Ukraine. Over five million people live in conflict-affected areas. The death toll has now exceeded 5,000.

Griffith says they hope to bring a balm to the suffering of those who are displaced or living in danger. “We just want to try to help the churches be ministers of peace and to help them provide assistance to families and needy folks.”

Many families who have fled have decided to remain where they are until the winter is over before they go and assess what their old home is like–or if it can offer them a place to live again.

While they remain, SGA is working to help provide for the basic needs of those who are displaced–food, clothing, Bibles, and Christian literature–through the SGA Crisis Evangelism Fund.

If you are willing, able, and called to support this fund, you can do so here.

Above all, SGA desires to provide the thing that these victims of violence are looking for most: “When you have your life turned upside-down like that, people are looking for reasons and answers; and that’s why the Church is there, hoping to try to give them…hope and peace in Christ,” Griffith explains.

Whether you are able to contribute to the fund or not, you can always pray. Pray for the pastors who are working to distribute assistance and assess needs. Pray for safety for the teams who distribute aid.

Pray for the families stuck in these regions who can’t travel to safer places of refuge.

Pray that the churches would be peacemakers and have open arms to share Christ with individuals who are spiritually thirsty.


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