Russia/Georgia conflict concerns Christians

By August 13, 2008

Georgia (MNN) — The U.S. State Department is recommending that all U.S. citizens leave the Democratic Republic of Georgia due to ongoing Russian bombing of civilian and military targets. The warning was issued despite Russia's claim to have halted military operations there–a claim questioned by reporters in the region.

Western powers appealed to Russia for an immediate ceasefire after Georgia accused Moscow of pushing troops further into its territory and seeking to overthrow President Mikheil Saakashvili.

Slavic Gospel Association supports churches across the border in the Russian region of North Ossetia. SGA's Joel Griffith says there are number of issues that pushed Russia over the edge. "Georgia has sort of been a thorn in Russia's side for some time because of their desire to join NATO. You also have a situation of the Balkans when NATO helped separate Kosovo from Serbia. That's been something the Russians have been very vocal in their opposition. There are just a whole lot of geo-political threads running through this situation."

Unofficially, the death toll is listed at nearly 2,000. According to the United Nations, thousands of people are streaming out of South Ossetia and fleeing to North Ossetia.

Griffith says SGA would like to help support their churches in the region. "It's still too early to say how that's going to develop, though. But there's always the potential of a humanitarian crisis, and we will just pray that the churches will be ready and able to step into situation like that to help if it's needed."

While SGA is asking Christians around the world to pray for an end to the fighting, Griffith is also asking you to pray for something more specific. "Pray for the protection of the evangelical churches that are there and are ministering. Just pray that even through this crisis that the Lord will be able to use this to be able to find an open door for the Gospel."

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