Ukraine (MNN) — Say ‘Ukraine’ today and, if you’re lucky, you’ll get someone who knows there’s still a conflict in that country. Sergey Rakhuba with Mission Eurasia says while the bloody conflict between Ukraine and Russia is ongoing, the Ukrainian Church is moving.
(Photo courtesy of Mission Eurasia via Facebook)
On Sunday, around 500,000 evangelical believers gathered in the central square of Kiev, Ukraine to celebrate the Protestant Reformation’s 500th anniversary and to thank God for His faithfulness in their country.
Rakhuba was in contact with colleagues attending the event, and he says, “They reported over 500,000 across denominational lines from all the churches in Kiev and surrounding areas. Many traveled from all four provinces there just to be a part of that celebration, to thank God for the freedom to worship, to thank God for the freedom to preach the Gospel in their country, and to celebrate God’s faithfulness.”
He shares, “It was so exciting to see on the screen of my computer where I was watching young people with so much joy. They glorify God in the midst of their capital. This was the same place where they were protesting just a few years ago fighting for their freedom. But also this is the place where many years ago, communists would force people to demonstrate and propagate socialism, atheism, communism, and other ‘isms’ in their country.”
The celebration was due to a signed order by Ukraine’s president to celebrate the Protestant Reformation’s 500th anniversary. It may have been a move to associate Ukraine more with Western Europe, even as Ukraine works to distance itself from Russia amidst ongoing fighting and protests. But the turnout yesterday showed how powerfully the Holy Spirit is moving in their nation.
In a space used for mass demonstration, the Church used it on Sunday for mass celebration.
“Ukraine is still in the midst of war. Eastern Ukraine and territories are still occupied by Russian or pro-Russian separatists. Crimea was annexed by Russia. So yes, Ukraine is struggling politically, economically, but Ukraine is striving today spiritually, pleading to God to bless that nation.”
‘Radio Silence’ in the News
However, one of the most puzzling things is that this gathering of half a million people in downtown Ukraine…well, it barely made a blip in the news anywhere.
For comparison, about 500,000 people turned out for the widely-covered Women’s March in Washington, DC in January this year.
A church in Kiev, Ukraine.
Rakhuba speculates, “Very few like to recognize that the Evangelical or Protestant movement is taking such a powerful step forward. So the Evangelical Church is growing in that nation, and somehow we see that this all spread through social media, but official networks barely report anything.”
Even as a mass gathering of believers in Ukraine went widely unnoticed by the general public, Mission Eurasia celebrates with the Ukrainian Church and calls on believers worldwide to stand with them in prayer and support — to let them know that they are not alone as the Body of Christ.
A Persistent Church
Rakhuba says empowering the Church in Ukraine and the surrounding countries to advance the Gospel is their mission. “That’s what Mission Eurasia is doing, working with the next generation, those who take the baton, those who get into the generational gap and take the Gospel to their communities.”
(Photo courtesy of Mission Eurasia via Facebook)
One of their unique initiatives is School Without Walls which equips young leaders in Eurasia with biblical training, leadership skills, and practical ministry experience. Click here to learn more!
Rakhuba says Ukrainians are even taking the missions mindset beyond their own communities, and that Ukraine is becoming a hub for sending out the Gospel to neighboring countries and beyond!
“I just talked to a group of young people, they just came to this celebration from their mission trip to Mongolia in China — young Ukrainians who felt like the Holy Spirit was leading them to take the Gospel to…Mongolia where they reached thousands of young people through summer camps!”
For critical prayer points, Rakhuba says, “I would encourage many of your listeners to continue praying for [Ukraine], that the nation becomes a true hub for the Gospel in the midst of all those Eurasian countries.
“Pray for Mission Eurasia when we bring these strategic missiological initiatives into those nations equipping the next generation, preparing them to lead, and equipping them to serve.”
And finally, he asks, “Pray for peace between Russia and Ukraine. While Ukraine is celebrating God’s faithfulness, Russia is still after lots of Evangelical groups today trying to monopolize or politicize the spiritual field and limit lots of Evangelicals from their activity, trying to push them behind their church walls.”