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Weekend Prayer Alert: Ukraine

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Dear Ministry Friends and Supporters,

With Ukrainian presidential elections scheduled for this Sunday, May 25, violence has sharply escalated in the eastern part of the country, renewing fears that Ukraine is on the verge of civil war. On Thursday, a total of 14 Ukrainian troops were killed and 32 were injured in two separate attacks in the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Sadly, Christians have also become targets of the violence. Today, armed separatists attacked a prayer tent in Donetsk, ripping the tent apart and issuing this threat to those who were praying: “If any Christians come back here tonight to pray, they will all be shot.” Specific threats have also been made against pastors in the cities of Pervomaisk, Lisichansk, Slavyansk and Bryanka, who had to flee the region with their families.

Many speculate that this escalation in violence is an attempt by pro-Russian separatist forces to derail the imminent presidential elections by further destabilizing the situation in the eastern part of the country.

The following is a firsthand account from one of our School Without Walls coordinators that describes the situation in eastern Ukraine as well as how these young Next Generation leaders trained by Russian Ministries are reaching out with the gospel:

“I live in Dimitrov in the Donetsk Region of Ukraine. I love my country and believe that, as a Christian, I must do everything possible to help it flourish and to spread God’s Kingdom. My roots are also from Russia and I can’t help but love the Russian people. I pray and care for Russia and want Christ’s light to reach all corners of that enormous country.

“In Dimitrov and Krasnoarmeisk three weeks ago things were already starting to stir. Government buildings and police stations were seized. They raised a flag of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) above the mayor’s building. Many people with criminal backgrounds have gotten behind the DPR. For some people war is a tragedy, while it puts others in their element. People are scared, and are buying up all of the sugar and flour, in case of war. Most people keep their money in Privat Bank, but the DPR members are robbing Privat Bank’s cash in transit vehicles, so the bank shut down for a while. It has started working again, but they will only issue limited amounts of cash. People are panicking.

“On a positive note, people are more open to the gospel. In churches we are praying a lot. We have had night-long prayer meetings. We ask God to have mercy on our country, not to allow war, and to save many people in our town. Praise God, the Ukrainian army has set up posts around our town. We collected money and took them some basic necessities – razors, soap, socks, water. We also distributed Scriptures. We prayed for them, for God to protect them.

“I recently attended a meeting of pastors of Baptist and Pentecostal churches of our town. Everyone said that they are also praying for Ukraine and hope for peace.

“It is sad that the DPR has announced that they are against all churches other than the Russian Orthodox Church. It is sad that this resonates with a large portion of the population. But for us it is a signal that we have work to do here, that the harvest is ripe, but the workers are few.”

Russian Ministries has been responding to this situation by organizing prayer meetings, providing emergency aid and distributing Scripture throughout the country.

This Sunday also marks the observance of Refugee Sunday. While major Western news outlets are not reporting on this problem, there are now as many as 20,000 refugees fleeing Crimea and the eastern part of Ukraine. Russian Ministries is caring for these refugees by providing food, clothing, temporary housing and the Gospel of Luke through its Emergency Fund.

In light of the growing violence and refugee crisis in Ukraine, Russian Ministries urges the global Christian community to pray that the violence would cease and that the upcoming presidential elections in Ukraine would take place without interference or disruption. Please also consider a generous gift to our Emergency Fund by visiting our website at: www.russian-ministries.org, clicking on the Donate tab, and selecting Emergency Fund from the dropdown menu.

Thank you for your prayers and support during this critical time that may determine the future direction of Ukraine.

Sergey Rakhuba

Pray for Afghanistan: Day 2

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Dutch military troops in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan (Image, caption courtesy Remko Tanis via Flickr)

Dutch military troops in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan
(Image, caption courtesy Remko Tanis via Flickr)

Afghanistan has been a hotspot for conflict in modern history and a common battleground for international troops. As the December 2014 deadline for troop withdrawal draws near, pray it won’t leave Afghanistan in Taliban hands.

The country was taken over by Socialists in 1978, and Western forces came alongside Afghan rebels to try and reverse the Soviet land-grab. According to Peace Direct, the U.S., UK and Saudi Arabia all provided support to resistance groups. Over a decade later, Soviet troops withdrew and Afghanistan was declared an Islamic state in 1992.

As the country descended into civil war, the Taliban emerged as a political and religious power player. Terrorist attacks on U.S. embassies brought Western attention back to Afghanistan, the home base of Taliban leader Osama bin Laden, once more. Sanctions and targeted attacks began in 1998, but it wasn’t until 2001 that the U.S. and NATO began a major push on Afghan soil.

U.S. and UK troops ousted the Taliban government in December 2001. More troops were quickly sent by France, Germany and Italy to fight the Islamic insurgency.  In 2006, NATO took over Afghanistan’s national security, “its first-ever operational commitment outside of Europe”, according to BBC.

After more than a decade of conflict, foreign troops are packing up and heading home. Around 130,000 NATO troops are due to leave by the December deadline; the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops hinges on an unsigned security agreement.

With three days remaining until Afghanistan’s presidential and provisional elections, a strong prayer effort is needed. “Share” this series on social media and encourage more believers to intercede for Afghanistan.

PRAY: Pray that the withdrawal of international forces in 2014 will not lead to a return to civil war.

Pray for Afghanistan: Day 1

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(Image courtesy Hamish Burke via Wikimedia Commons)

(Image courtesy Hamish Burke via Wikimedia Commons)

April Fool’s! Afghanistan hasn’t cancelled their elections. Despite multiple attempts by the Taliban to stop the country’s democratic progress, voting will still take place on Saturday, April 5.

But why is this event so important in the first place?

“As Afghanistan goes, so goes this whole Central Asia area,” E3 Partners’ Middle East expert Tom Doyle explained in yesterday’s article. Afghanistan is a catalyst for change in a region where radical Islam has been a power player for centuries.

Shifting the country’s control away from the Taliban could result in more freedoms and hope for Afghanistan’s people. Decades of instability and conflict have left the national economy and infrastructure in ruins, and refugees comprise most of Afghanistan’s population.

While religious freedom is an unrealistic hope, Doyle noted, the election of a “moderate” candidate has potential to bring them a little more protection. Today, any connection to Christianity is deadly in Afghanistan. People who follow Christ are viewed as apostates and if their faith is discovered, they automatically receive the death penalty.

Watch this video to see what life is like for Afghan Christians. Then, share it with your friends on social media. Ask them to join you in praying for Afghanistan this week.

PRAY: Pray that the Taliban’s influence in Afghanistan will diminish.