This report is produced by EBF Communications in collaboration with Baptist partners.
As we ring in a new year and reflect back on the year behind us, the war in Ukraine continues to rage on. The EBF team echoes the greetings and gratitude that the Ukrainian Baptist Union expressed at the end of 2022:
“May God’s unchanging mercy, His faithfulness and goodness be with you in the new upcoming year. We sincerely thank you for your cooperation and your sincere hearts, which were opened to Ukraine. In our prayers, we thank the Lord for you service. Our hearts are especially warmed by you support in the midst of this war. We believe that our joint service for the good of the country will be crowned with the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ. We wish you spiritual enrichment, great blessings and God’s protection. ‘Be strengthened by the Lord and the power of His strength!’ (Eph. 6:10).”
This email contains updates on the situation inside Ukraine and in the neighbouring countries. Please feel free to share this with your networks and churches to raise awareness and encourage continued support of God’s Kingdom work in eastern Europe (please cite photos and stories appropriately).
Updates from Baptists in Ukraine
Despite continued shelling, even during Western Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, and frequent energy blackouts across the country, Ukrainian Baptists continue their ministry to those affected by the war. In a recent update leadership wrote:
“Churches of Ukrainians continue to minister with greater zeal and courage despite the difficult life circumstances. We are convinced that the snowdrifts, worsening or absence of mobile communication, Internet, and electricity are not solid obstacles for the ministry to God and people. As for now, their missiles and drones have damaged several hundreds of vital infrastructure objects. We are trying hard to save electricity whenever possible, which today is supplied by short time limited cycles.
Power plants, enterprises, and residential buildings were hit. But we are still alive and can work with incredible gratefulness to the Lord for every day we have. He still sits on His throne, and all the leadership, power, and further history’s writing belong to Him. He will not let Ukrainian people go through trials beyond our strength, so we entrust our current difficulties to Him.”
The Baptist Union continues to resource its pastors with workshops, training, and times of reflection including one for military chaplains recently. Outside of Ukraine they are working with pastors and leaders who have had to flee who are now ministering to displaced peoples across Europe and Central Asia. In a meeting in Vienna, leaders shared a bold vision of seeing every Baptist church in the country become a centre of Heat and Hope, shining light in the darkness of the war. Already they have distributed 229 generators to churches across the country and are helping to pay church utility bills. Many churches across the country are already living out this vision.
One church has partnered with local farmers to distribute over 15 tonnes of potatoes to the hungry in the Donbas region since the beginning of the war. In the tiny village of Bosivka, a church with only five members has been faithfully baking bread for the past ten months and bringing it to a nearby remote village without a supermarket or bakery.
The situation is most desperate in the recently liberated Kherson region where the most critical damage to infrastructure has occurred. Here churches do their best with their own limited resources to feed and provide heat for those without. A pastor wrote, “These people turn to the church for help. We try to feed them with what we have at the church. Their needs are huge, but we don’t have enough workers to minister to them.”
Updates from the Region
In the neighbouring countries and further afield, Baptists faithfully support Ukrainians. Aid transports arrive in Ukraine from Baptists in Germany, Romania, Hungary, and Poland. Centres continue to operate in Moldova, Romania, and Poland where refugees with no other place to go can stay and wait out the brutal winter months. Many are helping with utility bill support for those who cannot cover the rising costs. Belarusian Baptists have set up a network of safe stopover places for those transiting through Belarus and are distributing information to protect those fleeing from human trafficking schemes. Baptists in Georgia are reaching out to those in need who are displaced in their country. Baptist partners in the region will continue to be crucial in delivering aid as resources within Ukraine continue to diminish.
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 continued sacrificial giving and service from around the world so there are enough resources for those in Ukraine and the neighbouring countries to serve through the difficult winter.
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.
EBF invites you to join us for a special Christmas Eve Prayer Vigil for Peace on Friday, 6 January 2023 at 22:00 CET (21:00 UK time, 23:00 Ukraine time), finishing at midnight Ukraine time, the start of Christmas Day in Ukraine.
The Prayer Vigil will include music from Irpin Bible Church where Igor Bandura is a pastor, a message from Ukraine, and stories about what God is doing in Poland. The evening will be hosted by EBF President Stefan Gisiger.
EBF continues to host monthly prayer calls on the last Wednesday of the month via Zoom at 19:00 CET (18:00 UK time, 20:00 Eastern European Time). The next will be on 30 November 2022. You can use the same registration link.
A Shining Light in the Darkness of War— Baptists bringing hope in and around Ukraine
From 28-30 November, Baptist leaders from Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Belarus, and from EBF and Baptist Forum for Aid and Development (BFAD) met in Vienna to pray, strategise, reflect, and look forward to how God is calling the Church to respond in times of crisis.
Vienna is known around the world for its cosy Christmas markets and dazzling Advent light decorations that adorn the city. Even during the short winter days, the city glows with the warmth of lights and holiday cheer. The eyes of Ukrainian Baptist leaders shone as they gazed up at the lights of the city, a feast of light in stark contrast to the darkness that they left behind briefly in Ukraine.
From Ukrainian Baptist accounts, close to half of Ukraine’s power grid has sustained damage. Since the meeting took place in late November, Russian military forces have further targeted power grids leaving millions with little to no access to power as temperatures stay consistently below freezing. Replacement parts are becoming scarce, limiting the ability to repair damaged infrastructure. As Igor Bandura, Vice President of the All-Ukrainian Union of Associations of Evangelical Christians-Baptists pointed out, the upcoming winter can be used as a weapon of war.
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 million has been committed to EBF to support relief efforts in and around Ukraine!
Since the beginning of the war, over €5 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 million only encapsulates what has come directly to the Baptist Forum for Aid and Development (BFAD) 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 email@example.com
For all other details contact:
Will Cumbia, Coordinator for Migration Issues, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tim Solwoong Kim, Communications Director, at email@example.com +47 484 96 884
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