Courageous pastors, many wearing bulletproof vests, are risking everything to deliver lifesaving aid to desperate people living near the frontline of the war in Ukraine.
“Jesus used to go where there was pain, where it was difficult, where people needed him,” armor-wearing Pastor Vlad said as he and church members distributed food and other vital supplies to residents of a heavily shelled town in eastern Ukraine, gunfire echoing around them.
“They’re fearless; they’re ducking artillery fire; they’re undeterred, sharing the gospel and providing a unique ministry,” said Eric Mock, vice president of Slavic Gospel Association, an Illinois-based mission that supports more than 100 frontline pastors such as Pastor Vlad in Ukraine. “These frontline pastors are the first responders and as the assault continues, they’re ministering to the unseen wounds of war and to desperate people who’ve nowhere else to turn.”
Some church leaders have died serving in the war zone, where entire towns have been reduced to rubble, said Mock, a frequent visitor to Ukraine and Russia, where SGA has supported a network of thousands of local evangelical churches and pastors for decades.
“These pastors and other church leaders are the ones who stay in the struggle, literally on the frontline,” he said. “Some are chaplains ministering to guys who may die the next day.”
SGA plans to supply 100 “survival kits” to frontline pastors and churches in Ukraine in coming weeks. Kits contain solar-powered units so people can charge their phones, connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot and power emergency LED lights. “Their sense of loneliness and disconnection is very real,” Mock said. “These kits will be their connectivity to the world, showing them they still matter, that they haven’t been forgotten.”
For many Ukrainians taking refuge in local churches, the emergency lighting will enable them to read the Bible together as they pray for protection from missile and drone attacks.
“For them, light is life,” said Mock. “They’re looking to the Bible for answers; they’re looking to God for hope.”
The ministry is also asking for prayer for the following situations:
SGA-sponsored missionary pastor from the Chernigov region asks us to pray for God’s protection. He has no opportunity to flee to a safer place.
A regional SGA-sponsored missionary pastor in Chernigiv seeks prayer for a family who lived in a cellar for two months during the shelling. The father was at the front from the war’s beginning. The mother and children don’t know if he is dead or alive. Petro and his congregation are helping the family with humanitarian aid.
SGA-sponsored pastor from Mykolaiv asks us to pray for God’s provision. “The situation in our town is critical,” he says. “The power goes off very often.”
SGA-sponsored pastor from Poltava asks us to pray for a power generator and finances for gas and electricity. “This kind of aid is needed,” he says. “And we hope it becomes possible.”
SGA-sponsored pastor in the Zhytomyr region asks us to pray for his church’s witness and the ability to meet urgent power needs. “This is a great opportunity for the church to become ‘a light for the world’ literally,” he says.
SGA-sponsored pastor from western Ukraine said that people are in great panic and fear. Pray for peace in Ukraine.
More information is available at www.sga.org.
–Dwight Widaman | MV