What is happening in Ukraine?
Starting early Thursday, Feb 24th, Russian forces invaded the country of Ukraine. Due to intense and ongoing violence, damage to critical infrastructure and civilian casualties continue to rise. As of Wednesday, March 2, there were an estimated 2,000 civilian deaths, and over 800,000 refugees.
The U.S., NATO, and the European Union have built an international coalition to punish Russia with severe sanctions without engaging militarily. Regardless of the outcome, the hundreds of thousands displaced will continue to need assistance and support as a result of the destruction already suffered.
How is the church in Ukraine responding?
The church in Ukraine, from the very first moments, has demonstrated extraordinary faith. The words of Colossians 1:3-14 ring true in especially poignant ways. Churches continually demonstrate unity, pray and fast together, serve their communities, exemplify endurance and patience, and testify to the truth of the Gospel. There are many stories of faithfulness, including those singing hymns in the underground tunnels of the subway converted to shelters. Others tell stories of God’s care and provision, while still others find ways to rejoice amidst suffering.
How is the Jewish community impacted?
Ukraine has a very large, vibrant community in the heart of what has historically been a hub for Jewish life in Eastern Europe. Tragically, Vladimir Putin justified the war by arguing he needed to decapitate the Ukrainian government to “denazify” the country’s leadership. The accusation that Ukraine’s government is run by Nazis is particularly dangerous and antisemitic given that the president, Volodomyr Zelensky, is himself Jewish and lost many family members during the Holocaust. Given the historical context of Jewish experience in Eastern Europe which includes many cycles of marginalization and outright persecution, this is deeply concerning.
The Jewish community, much like the Church, has responded with efforts to maintain habits of worship and opened their homes and places of worship to the needy. Several thousand have also fled along with other refugees or applied to make Aliyah and become Israeli citizens.
Why do we want to support these two communities?
Our mission includes strengthening Christian identity and unity and cultivating deeper Jewish-Christian relations. As we strive to instill these values in young Christian leaders, we also believe that faith leads to action. Christians have a mission to love our communities and help to repair the broken world around us. We come alongside both Jews and Christians in Ukraine who are not only victims but also agents for good in this crisis. We add our support to their valiant efforts to continue faithfully serving their communities.
Why don’t the U.S. or European Union want to engage militarily?
Most Western nations have sent very large military aid packages to Ukraine and chosen to sanction the Russian economy rather than engaging militarily. The hesitance to directly engage with Western militaries rests largely on the nature of European security alliances. If one country from the EU or NATO engages Russia’s military, it could draw the entire continent into a war, similar to the events before World War I and World War II.