July 23, 2014
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Crisis in Ukraine
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Baptist family flees eastern Ukraine
LUHANSK, Ukraine (BP) -- As the 13:38 train from Luhansk pulled into Kiev's Central Station on June 5, hundreds fleeing political and military unrest in the eastern part of the country spilled onto the platform.
As election looms, seminary students pray
KIEV, Ukraine (BP) -- As Sasha gets his cap and gown ready, he remains uncertain about his country's future.
Ukraine, Russian Baptists remain united
UKRAINE (BP) -- Baptists in Ukraine and Russia will likely maintain unity beyond contentious political elections and Vladimir Putin's nationalistic aggression, but the U.S. could do more to contain the crisis, said historian Albert W. Wardin Jr.
Ukrainian churches face shaky future
DONETSK, Ukraine (BP) -- In Tom Long's* city in eastern Ukraine, life is "fairly calm" -- except that people are carrying baseball bats and packing semi-automatic rifles.
Easter sermon yielded to Ukraine's president
KIEV, Ukraine (BP) -- Texas evangelist Michael Gott saw an unexpected opportunity and seized it when he yielded his preaching time on Easter morning to Ukraine's acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov.
Attacks don't hinder Ukrainian Christians
DONETSK, Ukraine (BP) -- Christians gathering to pray near a political rally site in one of Ukraine's eastern cities have come under numerous attacks -- even gunfire -- from protesters.
FIRST-PERSON: From tragedy to tourism
KIEV, Ukraine (BP) -- Just a month after the fiery riots now known as Euromaidan occurred in Kiev's Independence Square, I visited Ukraine's capital. I was there less than a year before this most recent trip, but that was a different time -- a different Kiev.
'Holy desperation' in Ukraine, Gott says
KIEV, Ukraine (BP) -- The Ukrainian crisis has kindled an interdenominational prayer movement in the nation, said a Southern Baptist evangelist who ministers there and has accepted an invitation from Ukrainian Baptists to preach on a national day of mourning in Kiev.
Ukraine still on for Arkansas Master'Singers
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (BP) -- A group of 83 Arkansas Master'Singers originally scheduled to minister in eastern Ukraine April 21-May 2 have changed their itinerary to western Ukraine because of political unrest in the country. Travel dates remain the same.
Violence spreads in Ukraine along with fervency in prayer
DONETSK/KHARKIV, Ukraine (BP) -- Tensions -- and prayer -- are now rising across eastern Ukraine as the conflict between Ukraine and Russia continues to escalate.
Violent demonstrations erupted during the April 4-6 weekend, with pro-Russian demonstrators calling for independence from Ukraine or annexation by Russia. Thousands demonstrated in the eastern cities of Donetsk, Kharkiv and Luhansk, battling anti-riot police and seizing government buildings. In Donetsk, the Ukrainian flag was hurled to the ground from the city's administrative center and replaced by a Russian flag. At noon on Sunday, April 6, International Mission Board worker Tom Long* received a message from a local news agency reporting that the city of Donetsk would be renamed the People's Republic of Donetsk. "This is exactly what they did in Crimea," Long said. "One day they overtook the parliament building, and then they called for a referendum." The day after the vote for independence, Crimea was annexed by Russia. Within an hour after Long received the message, a referendum in Donetsk was slated for May 11. Pro-Russia activists, in storming the local government headquarters in Donetsk on Saturday, April 5, built a barricade around it. More than a hundred people were holed up inside, declaring a change of government. Ukrainian police were on guard outside but had said they will not use violence against the activists. Similar scenarios were being played out in the cities of Luhansk and Kharkiv. In Luhansk, demonstrators seized a stockpile of government weapons. IMB worker Joy Burnett*, who lives just blocks from the city center of Kharkiv, said the Ukrainian flag is still waving and won't be removed without a fight. "They're not going to give it up the way they did Crimea," Burnett said. Even among Ukrainian Baptists, who are historically pacifists, the threat of foreign domination is having an effect. Burnett said a Baptist friend recently told her, "I am ready to fight for my country." Although the future of eastern Ukraine is uncertain, Burnett and Long said God is at work in the midst of the unfolding crisis. As many as 200 believers have been gathering every morning in Kharkiv's Freedom Square, just feet away from a towering statue of Lenin, to pray for their country, Burnett reported. The nondenominational group includes Baptists, Pentecostals and Orthodox, the state church that is typically unfriendly toward evangelicals. "It's really amazing," Burnett said. "Young and old, fathers bringing their children, rain or snow -- everybody is on their knees."
Dorothy Patterson sees Ukraine's burdens
FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) -- Dorothy Patterson, in a visit to Ukraine and Georgia, saw firsthand that women "have a very great burden to bear" in the two Eastern European countries.
Crimean tension stirs call for prayer, Bibles
CRIMEA, Ukraine (BP) -- Crimean pastor Kostya Bakonov said he believes the conflict in Ukraine is not only a political battle, but a battle for souls as well, calling for more Bible and more prayer.
Ukraine-Russia tensions expand ministry
KIEV, Ukraine (BP) -- Tensions rose to dangerous levels as Russian forces occupied Ukraine's Crimean peninsula in late February, but Ukrainian Baptists aren't slowing down their ministry to a nation battered by months of internal crisis.
CALL TO PRAYER: God-honoring fasts
Pastor Ronnie Floyd shares about the importance of both prayer and fasting and how they are "important and integral ingredients in the lives of His followers."
Believers in Ukraine hopeful as Baptist becomes president
KIEV, Ukraine (BP) -- A Baptist preacher has been elected as Ukraine's interim president, prompting calls for Christians to pray for the beleaguered nation and its new leader.
New interim president Oleksandr Turchynov was the right-hand man of Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister imprisoned by Viktor Yanukovych when Yanukovych became president in 2010. The former prime minister was released immediately following Yanukovych's removal from office Feb. 23, an ousting that came on the heels of a three-month-long protest movement in Kiev, the nation's capital. Parliament voted Turchynov interim president until early elections take place in May. "We need to pray for him," said Nik Ripken,* an expert on the persecuted church and 25-year veteran with the International Mission Board. Baptists in Ukraine have a reputation, a moral base, that dates back to their witness to the government during the days of the Soviet Union, said Ripken, who visited with many of Ukraine's Baptist leaders in 1998 to hear and record the stories of their faith and persecution in that era. "Now they [Baptists] are reaping the rewards of that witness and moral fiber," he said. "We must pray that they do not lose in power what they held so dear in opposition." Tim Johnson,* an IMB worker in Kiev, said Turchynov is generally well liked by the public and has a reputation for being honest and trustworthy. Turchynov has been in touch with the leaders of Ukraine's union of Baptist churches, and they are supportive of his appointment and committed to pray for him, Johnson said. "My Ukrainian friends have expressed pride that a Baptist can hold such a role in a majority Orthodox country," Johnson said.

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