Orthodox and evangelical Christians share concern about the rising tensions in Ukraine.
Daniel Johnson, who runs a Christian radio broadcasting organization in Eastern Europe, elaborated on the situation on the ground and its implications for people of faith living in Ukraine in an interview. “Christians are hoping that the Russians don’t come too far, because churches will definitely be shut down in the areas that they take over, because that’s their practice and that’s their history,” he said.
Johnson shared his vision for the role of the Ukrainian Christian community as the threat of escalating conflict looms.
“This is a great time for the church in Ukraine to be strong and be an example and witness for Christ, knowing that God is in control God is sovereign and everything is according to his plan, so we don’t worry about it,” he said. “We go on the air explaining to Christians that this is their time, this is their time to be a witness for Christ, and it’s really a wonderful opportunity for the church despite all the chaos that can be happening here.”
Johnson attributed some of the unrest in the region to the schism between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
“Tanks are rolling down from Russia, Russian Orthodox priests are blessing the tanks,” he said. “The Ukrainian Orthodox priests are blessing the Ukrainian soldiers to fight against Russia, so it’s a tragic scene where two brother faiths, Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox, have completely sided on the national goals of their one country.”
Protestants and Evangelicals with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and Russian Orthodox Church’s focus on “nationalism and patriotism.” He rejoiced that “we are evangelicals, and we’ve never been controlled by the state, nor will we.”
Regardless of what happens in the geopolitical arena regarding Russia and Ukraine, U.S. Christians still have a role to play in ensuring peace in the region.
Johnson said that the Evangelical community in Ukraine is “working mainly to just put the word of God out there … to the general public and even to the Orthodox listeners who like to hear. We’re teaching them the word of God and saying, ‘Trust the Lord and your ultimate allegiance is to Jesus, not to the leadership of any one country that … you find yourself in.”
“We need to encourage Christians in America to invest in broadcasting the gospel throughout Russia and Ukraine and Belarus as our best way to help these people,” he said. “Not through political or economic actions but actually investing in ministries that communicate the Gospel and teach the scriptures on a daily basis.”
“We need to be a force of prayer for peace between these nations and trust God to determine the outcome of the lives of the people both in Ukraine and Russia, because in many ways … it’s a brotherhood of nations. We need to be focused on praying that God intervenes and His will is done because … there’s no real military solution from the U.S. to the problem in Ukraine,” he added. “It’s either you stay out of it, or if you’re going to get in it, it will escalate to the point where it will be beyond people’s control and we’ve been through those scenarios before.”
–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice