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 month 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.
The Christian Church has not stayed silent on the attacks which have been condemned by all churches, including some of the Russian Orthodox leaders.
Pope Francis has labelled the Ukraine war as a “senseless massacre” he has demanded that wold leaders bring and end to the carnage. Prayers have been regularly said in Catholic Churches across the globe and the Pope has called for people to pray for an end to war. Read more (here)
The Archbishop of Canterbury and Archbishop of York labelled the war as ‘an act of great evil,’ Anglican churches have been dedicating prayers to Ukraine since the outset of war too. Read more (here).
Most large church bodies have sent out similar condemnations of the war and have been praying for peace. On 13th March, Pastor Andrew Willis of Ilford High Road Baptist Church, shared a beautiful prayer. We share that prayer here for you to focus your prayers better:
Concerns have been raised at the reaction of the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church. Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill has supported the Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. During a service he told a congregation that he held the West responsible for the conflict by allegedly disregarding Russia’s security concerns. 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 (here).
His comments created a huge rift in the Russian orthodox Church with the Amsterdam’s Russian Orthodox parish formally seeking canonical permission to break away from Moscow and to join the Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople. Read more (here).
Moreover, 300 Russian Orthodox priests have launched an open petition calling for an immediate ceasefire to the war with Ukraine and criticized the suppression of non-violent protests demanding peace. Read more (here).
The comments by the Patriarch resulted in direct video-conferencing communication with the Pope and Archbishop of Canterbury. This resulted in varied statements of which the Patriarch Kirill’s was as follows:
“Special attention was paid to the humanitarian aspects of the current crisis and the actions of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church for overcoming its consequences.
“The parties underscored the utmost importance of the ongoing negotiation process, expressing the hope that a just peace would be achieved as soon as possible.” Read more (here).
The Belarusian Orthodox Church has stayed silent on the war but most orthodox and Roman Catholic bodies have been loud in their condemnation. Read more (here).
In the meanwhile British Asian Christian Association has been in direct communication with two Pentecostal churches, one in Moldova and one in Ukraine. We are also talking with a large Christian origin but secular charity working in Poland helping refugees and homeless people (we’ll report on this next week). We hope to raise funds to support the work of these groups and will regularly report back on how funds are being used.
Pastor Dennis Vasiliev is a Russian Pastor who leads a church in Odessa, Ukraine. Odessa has not yet been attacked but is a location where many people are now gathering as they await transport out of Ukraine through a number of countries bordering the nation. Odessa has a border with Moldova and with Romania. Here is a video he shared with us in the first few days of the war:
He informed us of the help they would like to provide.
“Refugees that travel through Odessa are usually taken care of until they get to us.
“There is transportation that brings them here and takes them farther to the borders of other nations.
“Like in any situation it is the poorest that find most difficulties.
“People have lost their jobs or have had massive salary cuts as businesses are shelled and clients disappear.
“Inflation has exacerbated this situation and people are getting desperate while prices increase.
“There is currently no war in Odessa but things may change any moment.
“We are all living through difficult times with a curfew imposed on all citizens from 8pm – 6am.”
“Today (2ist March) The mayor of Odessa, Mr. Trukhanov has stated that Russian forces are attacking the city of Nikolaev.
“This is only 130 km away from Odessa.
“Russian forces have entered Kherson (200 km from Odessa) and may start attacking Odessa together with forces coming from Transnistria and from the sea.
“If that happens, we are going to use our church and rehab for people who will need a place to stay.”
In video below the Mayor of Odessa wars of impending attacks:
British Asian Christian Association, have sent £500 to the church from our reserves. Pastor Dennis explained how this will be used, he said:
“Currently we are ready to start helping with food and medications to those who are in real need.
“We will also share the Gospel with them and provide free New Testament Bibles.
“We will pray with them and pray for them.”
We attach videos of the church sanctuary and rehab which will be used for sheltering people as the refugee numbers increase and if war begins in Odessa.
We would like to support the Ukrainian Church with at least £250 per month for the duration of the war. The numbers of people they will be helping will no doubt increase as the war continues. If you would like to donate to support this essential work please donate (here). It would be beneficial if those who donate could consider a monthly donation until the end of the war but one-off donations are appreciated. Please reference your donation Love for Ukraine.
Pastor Vitalii is a pastor in Chisinau, Moldova also with Potters House Christian Fellowship, a church that has always been a great supporter of British Asian Christian Association. He described some of the work he has been doing in Moldova to help the many refugees entering from the border, he said:
“On 24th February our world was changed dramatically.
“The very day before war started God put on my heart a message that proved to be prophetic.
At a Wednesday night service the day before the war began, Pastor Vitalli had been preaching from the book of Acts. He shared this verse.
“Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace.
“For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.” Acts 18:9-10
“The very day before the war started God put on my heart a message that proved to be prophetic.
“It was weird for me to preach that message because we have been preaching on the street for the last ten years and there wasn’t too many people.
“The very next day war started and thousands upon thousands of refugees started to arrive in our country and city.
“On the second day of the war we were preaching downtown and I was overwhelmed because of the multitudes of Ukrainian cars and people that where lost.
“I preached in the Ukrainian language (I was born in Ukraine) and there were people that were approaching us asking for shelter.
“That day I realised that it was God’s will that we get involved in helping those fleeing the war.”
The two women in the video have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour while at Pastor Vitalli’s Church.
Pastor Vitalli and his church took immediate action and began to remodel their church to provide shelter for refugees.
They installed beds, a new bathroom with shower, washing machine, clothes dryer and other facilities. Members of the church gave up so much time and many of them were working 16 hours a day to make the project come to fruition.
A supply of beds to ensure living space is comfortable for refugees.
The need as you can imagine was quite immediate and they had no option but to let fleeing women and children use the premises while still under construction. The church simply desired to provide a protective four walls and ceiling to the large number of homeless refugees in transit to other nations, or seeking more long-term housing in Moldova.
Another woman thanks Vitalli for getting a few refugees off the street and providing a comfortable temporary stay before they moved to next destination.
Currently the church is caring for up to 40 people at a time, names and faces change but the numbers stay very constant. The church collects people from refugee registration points, they provide temporary shelter, food and washing facilities and also transport from border to border for those moving to other nations. The majority of people that stay with them are only with them for up to a week. Pastor Vitalli is also checking the authenticity of any contacts and details for next destinations that anyone his church helps.
Pastor Vittali further added:
“The work is hard but God is helping us.
“Please pray for us, that we’ll be able to meet all the needs of these dear souls!”
The costs of running their temporary shelter is around £500 per month. The church cannot continue this support for much longer and have asked us to help with some or all of these costs. If you would like to support the work of Pastor Vitalli please make this happen by donating (here). Please reference your donation ‘Love for Moldova’.
Juliet Chowdhry, Trustee for British Asian Christian Association, said:
“The stories and accounts that we have heard from Pastors and refugees in Ukraine, Moldova, Poland and other nations has been extremely worrying.
“The devastation that this war has created is frightening, because it is so close to home and may expand further still.
“The most appalling thing about this war is the women and children who have been left to travel for refuge alone.
“Reports of sex-traffickers prowling at Ukrainian borders is a worrying development. Read more (here).
“They are in such a vulnerable situation and I praise God that so many churches have chosen to intervene and provide help.”
“I have spoken with Andrei a Moldovan Orthodox Christian working in the UK who tells us of his fears that Moldova (also a non-NATO country) may be attacked next.
“His elderly parents have taken in a refugee family but every day they pray that God keeps Putin at bay.
“The relationship with Transnistria (Part of Ukraine that has declared itself independent [click here]) is strained and like people in Odessa, Moldovan’s fear the 1500 Russian troops stationed there could attack.
“So many people are being affected by a needless war.”
Some Russians have begun to fear that their community in the UK may face a backlash. So we share this article from the BBC to express that most Russians abroad find this war deplorable. Read more (here).
The very fact that Pastor Vasilev a Russian living in Ukraine has bravely chosen to stay and help Ukrainians, is a testament to this. We thank God for his brave stand during such a intensely dangerous moment. We pray that God is able to reach through his work and through the work of Pastor Vitalli.