September 17, 2014
Crisis in Ukraine
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Ukraine conflict prompts local church response
UKRAINE (BP) -- Artillery shells rock buildings. Armed men run through the streets firing their weapons. Citizens take refuge in any safe haven they can find. Yet, Christian workers in eastern Ukraine say the church has never been more alive.
Ukraine's cry for help & hope stirs U.S. churches to pray, go
NEW ALBANY, Ind. (BP) -- When Becky Dorman sees Ukraine in the news -- the violence, the bombs, the downed aircraft -- she thinks of Marina. Dorman, a member at Graceland Baptist Church in New Albany, Ind., met the young Ukrainian woman in 2009 when Dorman's mission team traveled to Ukraine. Marina was a translator for the team. "I continue to pray for her, especially for her safety," Dorman said. "Having never been to Ukraine before, she really took my heart." A number of churches in the United States have postponed or canceled their plans to do ministry in Ukraine this year because of the unrest. But Christian workers in that region of the world say there is still much that churches "back home" in the United States can do. Tim Johnson,* an IMB representative in Ukraine, said the U.S. church has a "great role" in reaching out to Ukraine during these difficult times by creating awareness, continuing to pray and being a part of outreach efforts. "Those are great ways for the church to continue to support our Ukrainian brothers and sisters," he said. "It's just hard when you know that there's church-planting efforts going on, there's desire to see new work take place, but at the same time there's that cloud of fear that hangs in the air," he said. "So we pray for that to dissipate and that we could have a chance to move forward with clear skies." Marina's home is in the Luhansk region, a section of eastern Ukraine torn by conflict between pro-Russian separatists and the Ukrainian army. Her home couldn't have been farther away from war -- or from Dorman's radar -- a few years ago. "I remember hearing our pastor say from the pulpit that we needed to have a people group on our heart, and I remember thinking that I didn't even know what a people group was," Dorman, who serves as worship ministry administrative assistant at Graceland Baptist Church, said. Then Dorman's daughter, a junior in college, announced she was going to Ukraine to serve for a summer. Suddenly the needs in Ukraine came to life for Dorman. "I thought, 'You know what? I'll have Ukrainians in my heart," she said. She did. Since Dorman's initial trip to Ukraine in 2009 she has been twice more. The church partners with Joel*, a former worship pastor of Graceland Baptist. He is co-director of the church-planting program at Kiev Theological Seminary. He served 35 years as worship pastor at Graceland Baptist before he and his wife Mary Ellen* began work with the International Mission Board in Ukraine in 2003. Since then, he's partnered with Graceland Baptist to link them with the church planters he trains.
Baptists assess damage in eastern Ukraine
SLOVYANSK, Ukraine (BP) -- Cities in eastern Ukraine once held by pro-Russian separatists are slowly returning to normal as residents begin to rebuild their war-torn lives.
Russian, Ukraine Baptists voice political divide
NASHVILLE (BP) -- The Russian and Ukrainian Baptist unions have each cited biblical principle in justifying their opposing views of the 2014 Ukrainian revolution, but they appear to still maintain fellowship beyond their differences, historian Albert Wardin told Baptist Press.
In Ukraine, displaced people receive aid
KHARKOV, Ukraine (BP) -- Displaced people from the conflict regions of southeastern Ukraine are moving north into the Kharkov area in search of safety, according to reports received by Baptist Global Response.
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."

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