Evangelical Church calls for peace amid protests in Ukraine
Reports of violence, discussions of amnesty and government resignations have passed through international news sources since protests were sparked by the November announcement that Ukraine would not be strengthening ties with the EU.
The international community and the Church are worried that the country will descend into civil war if common ground cannot be found between the opposition parties and the current government. As protests continue, BMS World Mission partner organisation, Russian Ministries, is working to spread the gospel and messages of peace and compromise in the hearts and minds of both sides.
Until 22 January, the day that anti-protest laws were implemented, protests were relatively peaceful. 'Streets swelled with thousands,' says the President of Russian Ministries, Sergey Rakhuba. 'What had been a peaceful protest turned violent.' Fortunately, the protest law was annulled by Parliament on 28 January and one day later a conditional amnesty was granted. The government has agreed to release the 218 jailed protestors if the opposition agrees to vacate the barricades and government buildings within 15 days. Protestors are not pleased with the conditions and have told news agencies they have no intention of leaving their posts.
As the Ukraine’s interim government continues their discussions, the evangelical Church in Ukraine is calling for peace. 'The situation in Ukraine is extremely tense. Peace is extremely fragile and the Church can play a reconciling role on behalf of all Christians in Ukraine,' says Dr Gregory Komendant, a statesman of the evangelical Church in Ukraine. 'I am calling on the global Christian community for prayer and support at this critical time for our nation.'
Thanks to a grant from the BMS Mission Innovation Fund, Russian Ministries will be providing special editions of Scripture to protestors in Kiev. In addition, 150 church leaders issued a statement asking the government and protestors to 'heed God’s commandments of love and forgiveness, without which the demands for equity may end up with chaos and violence.'
As the world watches and waits for the results of the amnesty bill, the evangelical community must play its part, “to be the salt and light,” and help both sides to reconcile their differences peacefully in order to find a solution that will best serve the people.
This article first appeared on the website of BMS World Mission and is used with permission
Vickey Casey, 30/01/2014