10 December 2014

UPDATE ON UKRAINE by Jeff Franks for The Baptist Trumpet.

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine takes a surprising turn from time to time, but of late it seems frozen, both militarily and politically, to say nothing of soldiers struggling to stay warm on the front lines. Reports of artillery, tank, and missile barrages, deaths and injuries continue to trickle in every day. 

Since September 5, a cease-fire has been in effect in Eastern Ukraine. However, since then 93 civilians have died, and countless soldiers on both sides. I have read impossible to verify, conflicting reports of thousands of Russian soldiers who have died in this conflict. To say nothing of the grieving Ukrainian families, Russian families cannot even publicize the real reasons for their sorrow without incurring the displeasure of the state, which continues to deny their involvement. Therefore, please continue to keep both Russia and Ukraine in your prayers. 

The protracted conflict is taking a huge toll on Ukraine at large. With the coldest months of the winter still ahead, exhausted coal supplies are forcing electric power brown-outs and black-outs throughout the country. The Hryvna, the Ukrainian national currency, has lost 40 percent of its value over the last several months. Elderly and handicapped pensioners are paying a third or more of their pension just to stay warm. Though food prices tend to lag behind inflation, the relentlessly rising numbers still create “sticker shock” as they take a larger percentage of the monthly pay check. I have no doubt Russian families are suffering in a similar manner.

The Baptist churches of Ukraine have responded in encouraging ways. Within the last week, the Baptist Union of Ukraine has held vision and planning meetings for a coordinated response to the crisis. They are focusing primarily on prayer, benevolence, and evangelism to the more than 100,000 displaced persons from the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces. A recent outreach to the nearby Ivankov region has resulted in many saved with Bible study groups forming. Please pray that this effort will result in new churches planted! 

How are the churches doing inside the conflict zone? A recent report to the Baptist World Alliance stated: “Amid shelling and tanks moving through the streets, Christians hold prayer meetings in the city parks and squares, establish centers of free psychological and medical assistance, host, feed, and dress the refugees.” Only heaven sees and records the stories of their faith and sacrifice.
Author Chris Tiegreen once wrote, “We live in a broken world, partly of our own doing, and we suffer because of it. But we rejoice that the suffering does not compare to the glory to be revealed (Rom 8:18).” How true! 

I hope you have derived some prayer points from this article. I think you know well that the current unrest is part of God’s plan to show his incredible faithfulness to his chosen people in the last days, and to all who seek a relationship with him through his Son, Jesus Christ. “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness!” (Lamentations 3:22,23)

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