As news that war had finally broken out in Ukraine came to us, most of us were no longer surprised. Simply ignore what the news commentators were saying, and pay attention to what the Russians were saying, and it soon became clear. The decision to invade Ukraine had been made much earlier. As I now write this, the war is fully engaged. It would be shocking to me if there were any other outcome than a total Russian victory.
I have been praying for Ukraine. I am a Mennonite. My ancestors moved to Ukraine in the 1790’s. My parents fled Ukraine in about 1944. I feel that my own history is in Ukraine. The image of Soviet tanks and military might in Ukraine is the image that has been left to me by my parents and grandparents. My grandfather was falsely arrested by the Soviets, falsely imprisoned, and then murdered. This happened in Ukraine. I feel as if my own blood lies in that land. As I hear of Russian tanks again rolling through that land, I feel as if I am again hearing the stories of my ancestors.
I have a dear friend in Germany who has had a mission to Ukraine for many years. His stories about a fledgling Evangelical church in that country have brought great joy to my heart. In his last letter to me, my friend said that we will now find out whether the church there was built on sand or on the rock of Christ Jesus. For this reason, I have prayed all the more.
All Christians should be praying for Ukraine, because we have brothers and sisters in Christ in that land. We need to express solidarity before the throne of God.
Perhaps you, like me, have wondered what these events mean. In Matthew 24, Jesus told us that wars would continue on the earth, right until his second coming. In that sense, we should not be surprised that wars are again being fought.
But what of this war? UN Secretary-General Guterres said the world is facing a moment of peril. The Washington Post predicted the greatest displacement of European people since the aftermath of World War II. Such is the nature of this crisis.
Of course, none of us knows what the result of all of this will be. Will Russia seek to restore the humiliation of having lost the Soviet Union? Many pundits think that is exactly what is happening now. If so, how will the West respond? Will the sanctions merely be symbolic? Will the West seek to compromise? Or will the West be willing to respond with firmness? Are the events before us spiraling towards a massive war? I pray it is not so. We might also wonder if events such as this are signalling that we are moving ever closer to the events that will eventually lead to the return of Jesus.
But with all these thoughts, we must not neglect our duty to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ in Ukraine. In the days and months to come, we will hear of how the church is fairing. I have no doubt that the opportunity will arise for us as Christians to support the church there. As the church of Ukraine seeks to minister to the injured, the sick, the hungry and the needy, we need to be ready to supply the church with resources so they can do their work. Let us seek out responsible Christian agencies, open our pocketbooks, and be prepared to give and to support. But above all, let us continue to pray.