25 October 2014


You have surely noticed three names dominating the world headlines: 


Tell me, which of these big three would have grabbed your attention only a year ago? That’s right! None of them. They were different, weren’t they? What will they be a year from now? Well, only the Lord knows, but there are certain forces behind them which actually do not change: death, disease, and war. Like the horsemen of the Apocalypse, we can “safely” predict that these key players, though their names may change, will still be upping their game until the Lord returns.
Knowing that, as believers how should we respond to these evil forces when they come to our neighborhood, to our very doorstep? 

Here in Ukraine, a year ago Coleen and I could not have anticipated the outbreak of war and the widespread social and economic challenges that we would be facing today with our Ukrainian friends. However, watching their response has been instructive and inspirational for us, and I hope their example will also encourage you and prepare you to face any storms on your horizon. If I were to ask a close Ukrainian Baptist friend for advice on what to do in times of national upheaval, here is what I think he would tell me. 

First, hold your inner peace. Jesus said, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass.” (Matthew 24:6) The entire country seemed to teeter on a knife-edge of suspense during the long and difficult winter of 2013-14. No one really knew when or how the “Maidan” protests in Kyiv would resolve. There were outbreaks of violence from both sides, but the Baptists who took part always did so with prayer and song, peacefully, as if to say, “It’s OK. God’s still in control.” 

Second, serve those in greater need. Throughout the long months of war, starting in the spring and continuing through this fall, the Ukrainian believers provided clothing, opened their homes for refugees, and served in countless other practical ways, not “growing weary in doing
good.” (Galatians 6:9) 

Third, keep sharing the love of Jesus Christ, no matter what happens. I was especially encouraged to see teams of young people walk into the winter conflict on Maidan Square and share the gospel with all and any who would listen. Unforgettable! 

Fourth, pray without ceasing. It seems there is nothing like troubled times to bring new life to our prayer ministry. However, just between us, don’t pray for trouble, just pray! It has been a joy to kneel so frequently with so many faithful partners in prayer, daily, weekly, continually! 

When I began to write this article I wondered which event in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict would have the greatest significance for our BMAA believers? This previous Sunday at 3 pm,
the Baptist Union of Ukraine, having received approval from President Poroshenko’s administration, invited believers of all professions to gather in Kyiv’s Maidan Square to pray for peace in Ukraine. Similar prayer meetings were held simultaneously in all of Ukraine’s major cities.
When has a nation so publicly and boldly sought the favor and protection of God? Though this event did not rate in today’s fear-laced headlines, remember that heaven views earthly events in the most radically different way, and thank God for that! So alongside ISIS and Ebola victims, please remember Ukraine’s peace in your prayers! 

Written by Jeff FranksPublished in the Baptist Trumpet, October 2014. Photo by Anatoly Kaluzhny

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