Churches in Russian-Occupied Ukrainian Branches Face Desperate Conditions – Baptist News Global

Baptist churches in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine face increasingly desperate humanitarian conditions while responding with increasingly creative physical and spiritual outreach efforts, the European Baptist Federation said in its latest war zone statement.

The situation report was released just days after the United Nations reported that more than 7.5 million people had left Ukraine since Russia invaded the country in February. This figure does not include the additional 7 million people displaced inside Ukraine.

For those remaining in the eastern areas now occupied by Russia, the situation is becoming dire, EBF said.

“The civilian population is terrorized and often deprived of the possibility of leaving for the territories under Ukrainian control. As water supply lines have been cut in many towns in occupied and besieged areas, churches are stepping in and tapping into church wells to distribute water to their communities. In Mykolaiv, the local church is starting to drill a new well to support the needs of the community.

Even the destruction of at least two churches by shelling in the past month has not stopped ministers from risking their lives to help those in need, according to EBF report.

Search and rescue workers and local residents pick up a corpse from under the debris of a building after the Russian airstrike in Lysychansk, Lugansk region, Ukraine, Thursday, June 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky )

“Lysychansk, a small town in the Luhansk oblast in Ukraine, is an example of the many communities cut off by war where there is no electricity, water, communications, medicine or food. Regional pastors try to keep in touch with the churches in these communities and visit them when possible to ensure that they are not forgotten and do not feel abandoned.

As a result, some congregations report increased opportunities for evangelism, EBF reported.

“Dozens of churches have held baptismal services in recent weeks, and the war has not stifled the evangelical fervor of Baptists in Ukraine,” EBF reported. “Many are beginning to see their communities change their view of local churches, especially as churches tirelessly provide practical help and support. One church held a first aid training course and noted: “People are beginning to see more and more that Christians are not freaks united by some fanatical idea, but are truly people who practice the things they teach”.

The Ukrainian Baptist Union coordination center continued to deliver aid across the country “despite the fall of missiles in the vicinity of Lviv”, EBF reported.

The Union told EBF that “the multi-faceted ministry nature of our churches today resembles the work of emergency services. The Baptist Union attempts to respond to ever-changing challenges. We focus on the practical manifestation of the love of Christ and the effectiveness of the gospel.

Baptists in neighboring countries continue to meet the needs of Ukrainian refugees as their stays lengthen due to the ongoing war.

“Polish Baptists are adjusting to the challenges and joys that come with so many remaining guests. Three new Ukrainian churches have been planted and the largest Baptist church in Poland is now a Ukrainian congregation in Warsaw. Baptists continue to host hundreds, serve thousands and send aid back to Ukraine,” EBF reported.

“The largest Baptist church in Poland is now a Ukrainian congregation in Warsaw.”

“Churches across Romania continue to provide practical and spiritual support to refugees, as well as to send humanitarian supplies to Ukraine. Dozens of them are now using their normal services with double Ukrainian translation. Churches integrate refugees and their children into normal life…and use leisure activities, such as afternoons at the local swimming pool, as an opportunity to connect with families and let them rest. Many refugees seek to cross from Romania to other countries.

Baptist churches in Moldova continue to operate a refugee shelter but struggle to secure a reliable vehicle, bedding and other supplies.

The congregations of Slovakia take care of approximately 75,000 Ukrainians who remained in that country. “Baptists seek the best ways to care for the traumatized and to meet the psychological needs of single parents with children displaced from their homes.”

EBF added that Baptists in the rest of Europe continue to provide assistance. “Spain, Portugal, UK, Germany, Austria, Czechia, Bulgaria, Italy and many other contexts have given generously and are hosting refugees with religious families.”

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Barry F. Howard