“The voice of the Church is more important now than ever before.” This is what our Defense Minister wrote in a letter to church leaders two weeks ago. He was right. The crisis here in Ukraine has thrown people into a turmoil of emotion, frustration and anxiety. Now is the time for Christians to keep their eyes on the only one who can guarantee our future – the Lord Jesus Christ. And this is the message they are sharing with their fellow citizens in churches, streets and central squares: that God is just and faithful to His children.
The dramatic events in our country have led to a remarkable unity and a spiritual wakening across the nation. It has been amazing to see the solidarity between representatives of different religions. The Mufti of Ukraine, the Chief Rabbi of Kiev and all of Ukraine, and leaders from the Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant Churches all appeared together on national television, calling for peace and unity. And last week, Archbishop Eustratius of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv Patriarchate), shared the astonishing news that Crimean Tatars – the Muslim minority in the disputed territory of Crimea – have offered to host the Church’s services in their mosques.
“They said that if it became difficult for our priests and parishioners to pray in our churches in Crimea, they would make room for us in mosques. They have also assured that they would help protect our rights,” said the archbishop.
Over the past month, as the situation in Crimea and the southeastern regions has escalated, churches and individual Christians have become very active in speaking out and sharing the hope and encouragement found in the Bible. Christians of different denominations have been fasting and praying together for peace and wisdom for Ukraine’s leaders and other world leaders involved in the situation. In Eastern Ukraine, prayer meetings are held every morning in the central squares of Kharkiv, Donetsk and Dnipropetrovsk. In the city of Lviv in Western Ukraine, a 15-minute prayer session is held every hour from 9 am to 9 pm in the central square. In Kiev, the prayer tents that were erected during the protests in Maidan square are still there and many people still come and use them as places of prayer. The same kind of thing is happening in almost every city and town in the country.
The Scripture needs in the midst of this nationwide spiritual awakening are tremendous. At the Ukrainian Bible Society, we are receiving hundreds of requests for Bibles. Churches and volunteers are experiencing the same thing, reporting on Facebook that they have been distributing Bibles but that the demand is outstripping their supply of Bibles. To help meet these needs, we have launched a special project to provide New Testaments in which passages about hope are highlighted. Thanks to the support of our sister Bible Societies around the world, we should be able to make 20,000 of these available very soon.
The rapid and unexpected changes in our country have taught us the most precious truth: we cannot know what may happen tomorrow but we know that the Lord is near and that his love for us never changes. Blessed with this knowledge, we can celebrate this eternal hope and look forward with complete trust to the plans he has for our lives!