Baptist churches in Ukraine are preparing to be a refuge for Ukrainians as Russian troops begin to enter the country, according to Christianity Today. Stocking up on supplies and calling on members with medical backgrounds to be ready for service, the churches are ready to help refugees including those who have been injured. Since the looming threat of invasion, pastors have vowed to stay with their congregations and help them through the dangerous situation.
Christianity Today reports that many members of the Baptist churches are committed to serving their communities amid escalating threats. Igor Bandura, senior vice president of the Baptist Union of Ukraine said that pastors are not leaving the area as they are “determined to take an active part in the needs of the people around them.” Additionally, Elijah Brown, of the Baptist World Alliance explained that “the tension is real; you can feel it in this frozen air,” adding that “should there be chaos and confusion, the Baptist churches could be lighthouses in their community.” According to Brown, $2 million has been invested into local aid, relief, and development. Volodymyr Nesteruk, pastor of Regeneration Baptist Church in Rivne, said that his church is also preparing to be a place of safety and shelter. Just 40 miles east of Poland, Yaroslav Pzyh, president of the Baptist seminary in Lviv, also made a commitment to open their homes and churches to refugees.
For Ukraine, tension with Russia has become more and more severe as 150,000 Russian troops assembled on the border over the last few weeks. Russian aggression, however, is not new to the nation. Christianity Today reports that “in 2014, Russia invaded Ukraine in support of the separatists. It annexed the Crimean Peninsula on the Black Sea and recognized the proclaimed independence of the two ‘republics.’” Just days before Putin sent Russian troops in on Monday recognizing “the independence of two separatist regions,” Ukrainian evangelicals “preached peace” focusing on the teachings of “war and rumors of war” from the Bible.
Thoughts and prayers will be with the people of Ukraine and the Baptist churches as they face Russian aggression. Yuriy Kulakevych, the foreign affairs director of the Ukrainian Pentecostal Church, reminded his congregation of John 14:1 (NIV), “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.”