The war in Ukraine surprised people across the globe when it began despite attempts at diplomacy. The first major war on European soil since the Bosnian War in the 1990’s.
The war has now been raging for almost a year and shows no signs of letting up, despite severe international sanctions being placed on Russia and their wealth oligarchs by most of the rest of the world.
Diplomatic meetings between Russia and Ukraine have yielded little hope for an early end to the war.
Attempts by Russia to end Ukrainian resistance through targeted attacks on the country’s energy infrastructure have reduced output by 30%. However, this has had little effect on diminishing Ukrainian morale as children take dance classes in the dark. The BBC reports that families have got used to blackouts and living with reduced energy consumption – few if any have called for a quicker end to the war (click here).
Vitaliy Klitschko Mayor of Kyiv has said that people may have to prepare for evacuation if more of the city’s energy infrastructure is destroyed (click here).
Pastor Vasilev, whose church we are sponsoring in Odessa, told us about the blackouts, he said:
“We have not been as badly affected as other cities but it has been difficult.
“Its uncomfortable to be in the dark, we are also being called to be more frugal with our consumption.
“I bought a 12v 220v inverter in order to get electricity from my car battery for our most important needs.
“When blackouts occur during a church service we use a petrol generator which is conveniently placed outside.
“People are willing to make sacrifices praying for an end to this war – there will be no winners it is so futile.
“There have been so many unnecessary deaths already, millions have been displaced and others live an extremely difficult life .”
Pastor Vasilev, provided us with an update on Ukraine, which he shared by video:
Pastor Vasilev has continued with the food bank and bibles that we sponsor with a donation of £500 a month. Our money also supports his work ministering to prisoners and holding regular outreaches in the streets of Odessa. Recent images shown in his video indicate the size of the church is doubling as the local church continues to save souls. You can donate towards this work (here).
The Guardian provides a synopsis of the current status of the war between Russia and Ukraine (here). What is clear is that a very strategic battle is taking place in Kherson which experts believe will be a defining battle of this war. It comes at a time that news is also filtering through that Ukraine has received first consignments of an Air defence system from the US.
Recently Russian military has denied that hundreds of soldiers were killed by Ukrainian resistance during a fruitless resistance in Eastern Ukraine. This is quite a rare denial and illustrates how frustrated the Russian military are we can only hope that this will expedite an end to the war.
We reported to you earlier on the actions of the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church who blamed the west for causing the war. During a service he also joined Putin in denying the independence of Ukraine, He said:
“May the Lord protect the Russian land and the peoples who today inhabit this land in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. All of us, representatives of these three peoples, are connected by a single Slavic culture…”
“…Our most important prayer must be that the devil does not permit brother to raise hand against brother. . . We are a united people, who, though living today in different countries, came out of a single Kiev baptismal font, united by a common faith and common historical destiny.” Read more about the outrage this caused (here).
In defiance of the Russian Orthodox Church the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has decided to celebrate Christmas on 25th December. So they will now be celebrating Christ’s birth on the same date as many of our supporters. We hope that celebrating Christmas at the same time will remind us all of the difficulties many will face this Christmas. The Ukrainian Government had already made December 25th a National Holiday since 2017, so it is an easy change to make especially as the 25th is on a Sunday this year. The Orthodox Church will be making a survey of how many people attend on the 25th and on a second celebration on 7th January – their traditional date following the Julian calendar. The church is aware that there is a growing passion for the date of a Christmas celebration to be changed permanently, though the older generation are less inclined.
Pastor Vasilev runs a Pentecostal Church and his church have celebrated Christs birth with Christmas Concerts on the 24th, 25th and 26th of December – a practice that will be replicated this year. He said:
“In post-Soviet countries the main winter holiday remains New Years Day.
“That’s when most celebrations, parties, fireworks and performances take place.
“We take our celebrations for Christ’s birth out on the streets, to remind people that over 2000 years ago a child came into this world and gifted us with the peace of eternal life.
“The date does not really matter we choose the 25th to join the majority of the world, the celebration is symbolic – the hope eternal.
Ukraine will be intensely cold this Christmas, the economy has made it extremely difficult for citizens to buy food, clothing and other necessities, but worse still energy is in short supply and prices remain high. There are many children still living in Odessa and British Asian Christian Association, would like to help struggling families with a little more help during the colder months. If you would like to help us create a budget that provides more than food, including warm clothes, grants for heating, sanitary products and other necessities, then please donate (here).