Ukraine is one of my earthly homes. I fell in love with Ukraine—the beautiful country, culture and people—in October of 1993.
Fresh off the plane, we walked in the dark on a narrow sidewalk as we heard a gathering of people singing "How Great Thou Art” in another language, a beautiful and haunting song accompanied by an accordion. Despite decades of oppression and communism, they were filled with hope for what they knew their country could be and joy in the progress already made—when communism fell, the Church in Ukraine came out from underground. Freedom to practice their religion was in reach.
In 2009, I had the privilege of moving to Kyiv for seven years with ReachGlobal. I served on the Kyiv City Team and worked with local churches in dealing with human trafficking issues. Though I’m no longer living there, Ukraine is still very near to my heart.
When I hear news regarding a possible second invasion by Russia, I remember the evacuation plans, bags by the door in preparation to leave at a moment’s notice. I remember the bells of St. Michael’s Monastery ringing downtown Kyiv, calling the people to fight during the Maidan revolution in 2014. I remember the fear of not knowing what would come next. Ukraine needs our prayer, especially now.
The immense turmoil leading up to the end of the Soviet Union and communism’s hold on eastern Europe left people hungry for God’s truth. During my first trip there, we sang songs on the streets, presented the gospel with the help of translators and gave away Bibles. At the time, people received the gospel, but now, the younger generations resist.
Since the fall of communism, Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital city, has modernized in a short time. New skyscrapers emerged and restaurants and European stores spread everywhere. The landscape in most places is unrecognizable from my previous experience. But bits and pieces of the old Ukraine still remain, like the elderly pensioners begging for money in the subways and the thousands of Soviet bloc apartments next to the new, modern buildings.
Despite cultural changes, churches are growing in Ukraine.
Ukraine’s culture shifted at warp-speed from a communist country to a postmodern one, which causes conflict between generations. The generations have different views on money, freedom, as well as morals, behavior and religion. While the older population deeply values religion and the freedom to practice it, younger generations have embraced secular values. Singing hymns in the streets and sharing the gospel would be laughable now; the younger generations don’t have the same attachment to it.
A call for prayer
Despite cultural changes, churches are growing in Ukraine. With the threat of invasion, I often think of many friends and colleagues still there, sharing the gospel—the stress at times is unbearable.
But God is on His throne, He alone controls nations and their leaders, and I ask Him to show me how to glorify Him through this difficult time. Please pray with me for Ukraine and Russia during these tense days.
- Ask to see God’s glory amid great struggle. God often uses very serious situations to draw people to Himself. Pray that He would be glorified through the people of Ukraine who are following Him.
- Pray for God’s peace to be a source of strength. Pray for the workers there—both expat (including ReachGlobal workers) and Ukrainians to be comforted by God’s shalom peace. Pray that they would have opportunities to share with others because they do not trust in governments, but in God.
- Pray for God’s protection. Pray for the safety of people on both sides of this border. Ask God for their physical protection but also their spiritual protection—ask Him to help people seek the truth during the conflict.
- Ask God for comfort. As the war continues from the 2014 Russian invasion of the Crimea region, the thought of more intense war seems overwhelming to the many families who have already lost fathers and sons.
- Ask God to intervene. Pray for wisdom as world leaders maneuver, strategize and speak out. Pray that God would move in their hearts and guide their steps and plans.
- Pray that Ukraine and Russia would be places without corruption. Pray for leaders of both countries to know God’s truth and peace and be transformed by His Holy Spirit, that they would seek to lead their countries in the way of peace.
- Ask for repentance, grace, forgiveness and reconciliation throughout Ukraine and Russia. Pray not only for the leaders of these countries, but for the people—that they would not have animosity between them but be united in reconciliation.
- Ask that this would open doors of opportunities for the gospel. God has a way of showing up when things are difficult. Pray that He would make His name known across Ukraine and Russia as the result of this conflict.
Whether in conflict, crisis or peace, ReachGlobal invests in disciplemakers to establish the Church where the gospel isn’t known. I take heart in this truth: We may be thousands of miles away from Ukraine, but there’s no distance, wall or war that will hold back our mighty God’s love—so, let's boldly lift up our prayers to Him.
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