[EDITOR’S NOTE] MNN is monitoring the unfolding situation in Ukraine. The article below will be periodically updated. Please keep checking back for new stories as our partners release details from the field.
Ukraine (MNN) — Scores of people flood into neighboring countries as Russia tightens its grip on Ukraine. More than 500,000 Ukrainians have left so far, and the exodus shows no signs of slowing.
“The humanitarian crisis is going to be significant. Remember, in 2014, the Russians went in and took over an area of Ukraine. We saw a humanitarian crisis, especially along the eastern border,” Greg Yoder of Keys for Kids Ministries says.
During an emergency United Nations General Assembly meeting, Ukraine’s Ambassador, Sergiy Kyslytsya, said the invasion has killed 352 Ukrainians, including 16 children, to date and injured more than 2,000.
A massive refugee crisis in Eastern Europe isn’t the only problem on the horizon. Yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin put his nuclear forces on high alert, leading the United States and European Union to arm Ukraine. American and British special forces war veterans are joining the fray.
Additionally, religious freedom in Ukraine could be at risk. “There is a concern that if it (the Russia-Ukraine conflict) becomes an occupation, we will face issues of being able to share the Gospel openly and freely,” Yoder says.
“That (Russian occupation) doesn’t [only] affect Ukraine because Ukraine has become the mission-sending agency of Eurasia.”
In Russia, “it’s not as free to evangelize outside church walls, as opposed to being part of the church that the federal government approves,” Yoder says.
The Russian government squashes individual thought or expression, including faith decisions. For example, they immediately began suppressing anti-war protests in Russia’s big cities and haven’t let up.
Believers in Ukraine are sharing the Gospel while they still can. “Ministry partners on the ground are saying this is an amazing opportunity to share the good news of Jesus Christ,” Yoder says.
One Keys for Kids partner turned its church into a bomb shelter when the first attacks began Thursday. “Some of the church is a little bit underground. So as soon as the bombardment started happening in Kyiv, the pastors encouraged church members to get to the church,” Yoder says.
They’re welcoming anyone in need and introducing them to the hope of Christ.
“Keys for Kids and Unlocked, our two devotionals for kids and teens, have been translated into Russian and Ukrainian for such a time as this.”
Pray these troubled times will lead people to know the Prince of Peace.
“We don’t know how long this is going to take [or] what the end goal of Russia is. Pray God will give wisdom to those in leadership; that He will change the mind of those who mean evil, and bring out the glory of His name in all that takes place,” Yoder requests.
Header image depicts a demonstration in Stockholm against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Wikimedia Commons)