Christian faith in Ukraine

The invasion of Ukraine has started as the Russian army obeys the command of President Putin. The response of the Ukrainian people has been inspiring. President Zelensky has led his people with courage, the Ukrainian army has shown skill and determination and ordinary people, both men and women, have volunteered to serve in the fight. They are defending their own country, their communities and families and their freedoms. It is deeply moving to see people who are willing to take their stand against a much more powerful enemy, even if it costs them their lives.

A few years ago, I visited friends living in Kharkiv, the second city of Ukraine. I worshipped with Ukrainian Christians belonging to a small Baptist church. They were ordinary people who knew Jesus Christ as their Saviour and trusted in a great God, their heavenly Father. The pastor of the church was a faithful man who, when the Communists ruled Ukraine, spent time in prison for possessing a Bible. During the Communist era Christians were persecuted and were portrayed as enemies of the State. The people of Ukraine are now fighting to preserve their freedoms which their fellow countrymen living in the occupied Crimea and Donbas regions have already lost.

Since 2014 the war in east of Ukraine has cost the lives of 14,000 people and many people have left everything to find safety in cities like Kharkiv. The Christians there have taken food to those trapped in the occupied Donbas. They have prayed for and encouraged young Ukrainian soldiers defending their country against the Russian-supported incursion in the east. They have welcomed and helped homeless families arriving in Kharkiv and have even opened their homes to families they don’t know.

The faith in God of the Ukrainian Christians is inspiring. They have great confidence in God and have proved him when experiencing great hardships. I saw a photo of a small group of Christians singing hymns in one of the underground car parks in which people have taken refuge. Their faith must be a great encouragement to those around them. In times like this the Christians believe and find great comfort in Bible passages like Psalm 27: “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident. I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”