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Ukraine: Brief Update (As of 10 February 2023)

This report is produced by EBF Communications in collaboration with Baptist partners.



It is difficult to comprehend and process the tragedies that we continue to face in these days. As we approach the one year anniversary of the horrific war in Ukraine, we are struck with the reality of destruction, pain, and death in Turkey and Syria. We are grateful for you, the global Baptist family, and your commitment to prayer and action when tragedy strikes. EBF remains dedicated to updating you on ways to support our brothers and sisters affected by such tragedies.


As the death toll continues to rise into the tens of thousands in Turkey and Syria, we ask for your prayers and support for our brothers and sisters from Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon as well as the Hungarian Baptist Aid Rescue24 team. All are working on the ground to rescue people, care for those displaced, and try to help recover from such a tragedy. Below are specific ways to pray and options to give toward their efforts:

  • for the leadership and churches of the Turkish Baptist Alliance

  • for the leadership and churches of the Baptist Convention of Syria

  • for the leadership of Lebanese Baptist Convention and our partners at LSESD/MERATH

  • for the Hungarian Baptist Aid Rescue24 Team

  • for the rescue operations because very many people are still under the rubble

  • for the families who have lost loved ones and /or their loved ones are currently missing

  • for wisdom for those making decisions about the disaster response in both Turkey and Syria

  • for the compounded pain of the millions of displaced persons in Syria and Lebanon



Updates from Baptists in Ukraine

After nearly one year, our brothers and sisters in and around Ukraine continue their faithful support of refugees and those in need in their communities. Since the new year, we have heard familiar reports of struggle and of praise.

The situation in liberated territories and areas close to the front link continues to be difficult.

Multiple churches in occupied territories were taken over by Russian officials and forced to either register with the occupying government or shut down. One of these churches just celebrated 115 years and faced significant persecution under Soviet rule. In Donetsk, the Awakening Church was struck by a missile. The Ukrainian Baptist Union reports:

The building of the church since 2014, that is, from the very beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian war, has been at the centre of the preaching of the Gospel and humanitarian work in Avdiivka. This is where Christian volunteers brought aid for locals forced to live near the front lines. After the full-scale invasion, believers turned the House of Prayer into a true centre of indestructibility: bringing generators, arranging hot drinks, distributing food kits etc.

In the summer, windows were broken from the explosion of one shell. It made work difficult, but it didn't stop believers. And now the second "arrival" with more serious building damage. Evangelical Christians don't give up…As long as it is possible, the church will continue to serve people by preaching and helping.

Church medics from a church in western Ukraine visited churches in Khearson, setting up day clinics for those in need. The churches they worked in briefly became “urban hubs where everyone in need received the medical care they needed: expert consultations, examinations, medicines and eyeglasses.”

Trends of growth within the Baptist Union continued. In Ternopil, five people became some of the first to be baptised of the year and the Transfiguration Church in Rivne added the first newly ordained pastor and deacon for the year.

We have also received reports of successful winterisation projects in the region, where churches have been transformed into centres of Heat and Hope. One church has distributed 20 tonnes of coal to rural areas to heat homes. Others use donated generators to continue their vital ministries to their communities. Read the words of gratitude for the generator and support received by the Fimiam church in the Volyn region:

When the lights started going out, all services were held in an emergency version. Parents went to pick up their children in a dark room. Not only the level of inconvenience has increased, but also the level of danger. Your service and sacrifice eliminated our problems and needs. Food is cooked in the kitchen, teachers complete the educational process successfully, and children's, teenage, and youth clubs continue to function successfully. Women cook food for soldiers on the front lines, the church is full of new people, the kingdom of God is growing, and our Lord Jesus Christ shines brightly and is glorified.”

Outside Ukraine, Ukrainians are on mission in every place they find themselves. Leaders of the Baptist Union held two conferences, one in Poland and one in Germany, for over 300 displaced ministers, missionaries, and volunteers working across Europe. Leaders encouraged them to engage with local churches and to minister to the communities in which they found themselves.

Looking forward to the one year anniversary, the Ukrainian Baptists are bracing for the predicted escalation from Russian forces. Yet they remain resolute in the ministry God has called them to. One pastor reflected, "a few times during the war I was abroad in business. And I realized that in Ukraine I am calmer than anywhere else." For as long as it takes, our brothers and sisters will continue to be beacons of hope amid tragedy.



Updates from the Region

Baptists in Ukraine’s neighbouring countries continue to serve those displaced. In Moldova, one family who fled from Odessa expressed their gratitude saying, “Here we found peace, we are treated very well. Everything is incredibly sincere and warm. (Pastor) Serghei and all the people who live here are amazing people, to whom I am very thankful and would like to express my deep gratitude for everything. Thanks to him, we live in warmth, are well fed and provided with everything. We thank him for everything!”


The Hungarian speaking Baptist Union in Romania has taken special care for elderly refugees and those with special needs. They have covered medical expenses and helped with the caring for a number of people recovering from surgeries. Aid transports continue from Hungary, Romania, and Poland, including support from German Baptist Aid.



On-going Prayer needs:

  • Praising God’s continued provision for those faithfully serving on the front lines of the war.

  • Praising God for those who have encountered Jesus in the past months through the witness of Baptists in and around Ukraine.

  • Pray for those who continue to try and live their lives despite the constant uncertainty of where and when missiles will strike.

  • Pray for all those ministering outside of Ukraine and for their ministries.

  • Pray for endurance as so many deal with the consequences of a prolonged conflict.

  • Pray that a just peace will come soon and Ukraine can continue to rebuild.

  • Pray for those around the world who will feel the strain of supply chain interruptions and energy shortages during the cold months.



Commemorating One Year of War in Ukraine: Joining Together to Pray, Reflect, and Give

As we look ahead toward the one year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, on 24 February, we provide these resources and events to aid in commemorating the past year of war.


Since the beginning of the war, the global Baptist family has come together to lift up our brothers and sisters through prayer. As we face one year of war, we invite you to continue to pray with us.

We will gather together on 22 February at 19:00 CET (18:00 UK time, 20:00 EET) in a special time of commemoration, reflection, and prayer. We will hear updates on the current response to the war and how we can continue to specifically pray for those in need. You can register at the link below. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

On Friday, 24 February, the exact one year anniversary, the Baptist World Alliance will release a 30-minute remembrance service consisting of prayers from around the world and reflections from the past year. More updates to follow here.

Finally, EBF has prepared this prayer guide for use in church services on Sunday, 26 February to intercede along with your congregations for peace in Ukraine. We encourage you to translate and use this in your church and personal prayers.



Support the work of our Ukrainian brothers and sisters and unions in neighbouring countries

Thanks to the continued generosity of partners around the world, over €5,7 million has been committed to EBF to support relief efforts in and around Ukraine!


Since the beginning of the war, over €5,7 million has poured in from around the world in a powerful and unprecedented show of solidarity. In reality, the amount is significantly higher as €5,7 million only encapsulates what has come directly to the Baptist Forum for Aid and Development (BFAD) Stream 1 response and does not take into account the millions more given directly to efforts by Baptist unions, churches, and individuals.


This generosity has allowed for a robust initial response to immediate needs and enabled a build up of reserves to disseminate over the coming months. Additionally, EBF has been able to support winterisation projects in and around Ukraine for the difficult winter months. Your continued support will help enable work in the months to come.


These donations are being channeled through EBF and split between direct response in Ukraine and projects assisting refugees in bordering countries.


Learn more about giving via bank transfer and in different currencies at ebf.org/ukraine


 

For further information and stories, please contact us at comms@ebf.org


For all other details contact:


  • Will Cumbia, Coordinator for Migration Issues, at will@ebf.org

  • Tim Solwoong Kim, Communications Director, at tim@ebf.org +47 484 96 884


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