Ukraine (MNN) — If you thought fighting was over in eastern Ukraine, you might want to read this report. Vice President of Ministry for Slavic Gospel Association (SGA), Eric Mock, just returned from the region.
“There’s a tremendous amount of scary, difficult military action going on that people have to endure every night,” Mock shares. “We’re hearing stories of people venturing out to just get food and being held at machine gun-point with a revolver next to their ear.”
Though government troops took back key cities over the weekend, rebels reportedly regrouped in the city of Donetsk. With nearly 1 million residents, Donetsk is the region’s largest city. Innocent lives en masse would be on the line if a government-rebel showdown took place here.
“80% of the population of these towns [in eastern Ukraine] have left for fear of their lives. A lot of the buildings are bullet-ridden,” Mock reports.
Nonetheless, Ukrainian pastors supported by SGA are hanging tough and staying put.
“They are still there when 80% of their church is gone,” says Mock.
The U.S. pastor says his cohorts in Ukraine remind him of a description of Jesus as the “Good Shepherd” in John 10:11-13: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.”
“The men we work with have not left their churches,” Mock states. “What an amazing thing to see, how these men are faithful to declare the Gospel.”
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Please keep Ukraine in your prayers.
“The first prayer request is that the Ukrainian believers would remain resolute and unified,” says Mock. “They are inundated with both Russian and Ukrainian propaganda. It’s very easy to be nationalistic and choose sides.”
Pray that Russian and Ukrainian believers look beyond nationalistic boundaries and hold to the nation of Christ, he requests.
“Number two: in the middle of these hard times, when people are suffering, often God uses those difficult times for the sake of the Gospel,” notes Mock. “Pray that hearts would be softened and the Gospel would go forth.”