16 July 2014

A SEASON OF WAR by Jeff Franks

A Season of War
By Jeff Franks
BMA Missionary, Ukraine 

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven... A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war,
and a time of peace” (Eccl. 3:1,8).  

May God grant that all towns like this one will soon be free of conflict. Photo by Jeff Franks

Seasons come in divinely ordained cycles and do not ask us if we are ready for them. All evidence seems to show that a “time of war” has come to Ukraine. Alas, the Ukrainians were not prepared for the invasion and takeover of Crimea, and they were not ready for what is happening today in the
Luhansk and Donetsk provinces. 

On Monday, July 14, a Ukrainian military spokesman reported that yet another large column of about 100 armed vehicles, including tanks, mobile artillery and armored per- sonnel carriers (APCs) had crossed into Ukraine from Russia across the porous border. Even the Russia Today news net- work (RT) showed a long column of tanks and trucks, some towing GRAD missile launchers, driving through Luhansk, Ukraine, all driven by anti-Ukrainian militia. Curiously, RT denies that the Russian government has provided any equipment or aid to these apparently well-armed rebel militi- amen. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry rightly called RT a
“propaganda bullhorn.” 

The July 15 headlines in Vesti, a local Ukrainian news- paper, read, “Ukraine Stands on the Brink of Invasion.” We are seeing a new gathering of Russian forces, this time with peacekeeping insignia on military equipment and uniforms. Our Ukrainian friends say Russia has already invaded, they continue today and will proceed in the same “plausibly deni-
able” fashion as the recent takeover of Crimea.

Another article in Vesti debunks an outrageous lie recorded on primetime Russian TV of how the Ukrainian “Fascists,” upon liberating the town of Slavyansk, publicly crucified a 3-year old boy before his mother. Then after she had allegedly watched him die and fainted, dragged her three times around the town square behind a tank. Of course, local residents witnessed nothing of the kind, but the interview with “Galya” the self-proclaimed eyewitness, has “gone viral” on the Internet. Russian media has not retracted her story. The accumulative effect of such propaganda is to bring the watching public to its collective feet, tearfully begging Presi- dent Putin to send Russia’s “peacekeepers” into Ukraine to
prevent further such atrocities.

What is real and not imagined is the rise of persecution of Baptists in eastern Ukraine. Separatist rebels have both occupied and destroyed Baptist churches in the Donetsk and
Luhansk provinces. Homes of pastors have been destroyed.

On July 10, pro-Russian militia took over Donetsk Christian University and held Pastor Pavel Minaev, the board
chairman, and 20 other workers hostage. Pastor Sergey Sko-
robagach of Mariupol was on a mission to help orphans
when he was caught and killed in a terrorist attack.

During our prayer meetings, Baptist refugees have re- ported kidnappings, beatings, torture and disappearances of their church members. Partly, anti-Baptist sentiment has risen because Ukraine’s interim president was a Baptist, and partly it is because the Baptists are known have been active in public prayer meetings calling for peace and national unity. In any event, the rebel militia has targeted them as purveyors of an “enemy ideology.” Truly, it is not hard to see “the enemy
of souls” at work here behind the scenes.

Coleen and I meet refugees almost every day because they come to our worship services and prayer meetings. Two families live next door and several others live right in our neighborhood! It is our privilege to help them however we can, but the Lord is most glorified when His local churches extend a loving hand. Praise God that many church members have taken in refugees, and some are even helping them from
their poverty!

Finally, I want to call your attention to the orphanages that are in Ukraine’s conflict zone. Just the other day, Sepa- ratist gunmen confiscated passports and forced the adminis- trators of Orphanage No. 1 in Donetsk to sign documents al- lowing their orphans to be transferred to Russia. The same kind of lawlessness is happening throughout eastern Ukraine.

Please keep the innocent children and their caretakers in your prayers. If someone should approach you to give to this need, please remember that when we talk of abusing little ones, is all too easy for charlatans to play on our emotions. We don’t always help by “throwing money” at a problem. Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear disaster and similar crises have led to fundraising abuses and moral shipwrecks. Rather, let us serve the Ukrainian Baptist churches in their efforts to care for the helpless in the name of Jesus Christ! And if we should do it through our giving, let us entrust our love gifts only into the hands of trusted servants of God, who have a
proven record of faithful accountability.

Above all, please keep the pastors and churches in your prayers. Just as this season, this “time of war” took the Ukrainian Baptist churches unaware, so it may be with any of us in the United States. Seasons do not ask our permission. Therefore remain alert because “to everything there is a sea- son and a time to every purpose under heaven.”


  1. Oh the sadness of it all! Brings a heavy sadness to my heart and tears to my eyes. God be with you in your efforts my friends.

  2. It saddens my heart to hear this. To think that violence like this is still taking place day after day. I am praying for a solution, for peace, and for the strength and courage to endure what you must. God Bless.

  3. Thank you for being a strong witness for God, helping those that are dislodged from their homes, and bringing an awareness of the situation to us in the states. I will bring this to our church as we continue to lift you all in prayer. From Cornerstone in Phelan


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