Mission Ukraine – part 3 – Openness for the gospel
I’m writing nothing new at all when I mention that peace and prosperity generally relate inversely proportionally to the religious practices in a society.
This is often mentioned in an atmosphere of contempt for faith and religion: yes, God can show up when it all becomes a bit too difficult…
But, it’s easy to reverse this: when everything goes without saying, people can lead relatively easy lives, there are fewer life questions and deeper issues are easier to ignore, people tend to think they can manage without God.
Over many decades we have been able to observe such a development throughout the Western world, and where Poland traditionally showed extremely high church attendance, with the growing prosperity this difference is becoming smaller at a very fast pace.
This is different in Ukraine. There, society has had a kind of existential crisis for years, with persecution, oppression, various attempts for revolutions and from 2014 onwards again war, which from February 2022 took unprecedented forms.
The immense influx of refugees, including many more believing (not only religious) Christians than we know in Poland, has already led to changes in the “traditional” landscape of Polish evangelical churches. But how does that look like in Ukraine itself?
Our visit to five churches in the west of the country has left a deep impression. For several reasons:
Whether it is on the grounds of the church itself, on a schoolyard or in a park, everywhere there is an unprecedented positive response to referring to the Bible or sharing the gospel! There is a hunger, it is acknowledged that God offers comfort and hope! Something like that is difficult to imagine in Poland, and even more so in Western Europe or the US.
We could freely bring the Good News!
In addition, the social function of the various evangelical churches is unheard of – all churches have various forms of local care and support for people in need. The number of war widows is unimaginable – during one of our events, the pastor already counted 10… Not to mention the local responsibility of dealing with traumas after extreme murder or f.e. the direct involvement in the reintegration of refugees from the east and south. There are also continuous initiatives to support the men at the frontlines, such as the church in Volochysk where thousands of pierogi are made and sent on continuously.
Such things are now known in the country and with that of course the credibility of the message that the church brings is growing… and then presence in the city center of Lviv of a large map with cards for intercession, or a general call for prayer suddenly seems nothing more than normal.
We are grateful to have seen this, to take up our limited role in this, and… to make this an inspiration for what we do at home!