Ukrainians' Faith Tested During Conflict
MIWC-supported ministry work continues in Ukraine, despite the political unrest and military turmoil in the country.
While the leaders of the governments of Ukraine and Russia continue their conflict, the daily lives of average Ukrainian citizens continue, remarkably changed, as they figure out how to navigate through daily responsibilities and family life while the cloud of war hangs heavy overhead.
MIWC Associate Vitaliy Bolgar reports that the month of February was "incredibly challenging both spiritually and physically. We experienced physical death [of those who died during the protests]. People are emotionally exhausted and the churches are constantly praying and fasting."
The violent February protest raids led to the ousting of the former Ukrainian president, the Russian takeover of the Crimea region of Ukraine, and the buildup of Russian troops on the eastern border of Ukraine.
This period is truly testing the faith of each believer and each church, Bolgar said, a faith that has to become stronger and firmer.
While government and military action escalated in February, Bolgar led a church choir and orchestra to Fastiv, Ukraine. Together with the youth of the Fastiv church, they enjoyed fellowship and prayer while participating in the 13th annual Youth Music Festival in Fastiv. More than 200 young people took part in this musical program focused on going out and preaching the Word of God.
As the month of March began, the choir received invitations to sing on stage at Kyiv's Independence Square (also known as The Maidan), which is the same place where the Ukrainian protests began in November 2013 and where violent confrontations occurred with police in February.
More than 120 people died, including 13 police officers, and more than 1,000 were injured over a several-day span in mid-February when police blocked Maidan protestors' attempts to enter Parliament.
The United Nations just released a report citing corruption and widespread inequality as the root causes of the protests.
“Facts on the ground need to be established to help reduce the risk of radically different narratives being exploited for political ends. People need a reliable point of view to counter what has been widespread misinformation and also speech that aims to incite hatred on national, religious or racial grounds,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, who’s Office (OHCHR) released the report.
The Maidan is now home to countless makeshift memorials to fallen protestors, burned out remnants of buildings and other scars from the police and protestors' clash.
As the invitations to return to the Maidan came in, Bolgar said, "Without hesitation, the members of the choir agreed to go and sing."
Here, they joined with other believers and filled the Maidan with this prayer:
Prayer for Ukraine
(performed a capella March 23, 2014)
God, I pray for its people
May you forgive them
May you save them
And show us your mercy
God, I know you are going to be with us
In your temple under the heavens
You gifted us with your joy and peace
You gave your life for the people
You inscribed us in the Book of Life
Later in the month, Bolgar took the sanctuary choir from Brovary, Ukraine to visit local villages where they held open-air concerts and preached the Gospel.
Despite everything going on around them and the increasing threat of a Russian invasion, these musicians go forward with their daily lives, all the while worshiping God through their music and spreading His message of salvation to their neighbors and countrymen.
Next the choir and orchestra from Kyiv heads to Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine.
Please pray for their safety while traveling and that the Gospel message reaches those who need to hear it the most.