Posted: October 21, 2015
GYS hears the challenges of the Mennonite church in Ukraine
More than a year ago, Crimea – a Russian-speaking province on the south of Ukraine – was taken over by Russia through some military actions and a referendum. The conflict has since expanded to parts of eastern Ukraine, where more than 6,000 people have been killed after a year of fighting.
One of the Anabaptist churches in Ukraine is Molochansk Mennonite Church, located just three hours’ drive away from the battle region. Four members of this church were in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA, to attend Mennonite World Conference’s Assembly 16.
Molochansk Mennonite Church has been doing what they can to ease the burdens of the affected people. They regularly send food to people near the battlefront and provide counselling to people traumatized by the violence.
However, while the Mennonites are now safe from harm, this conflict has politically divided the nation where Russian speakers and Ukrainian speakers used to live harmoniously.
“We have seen churches where the pro-Russian and the anti-Russian members won’t have communion with each other,” Utkin said. “Pastors are facing challenges in leading their divided members.”
“It has been amazing to directly see the support we are getting from the global community represented in GYS. Please continue to pray for our country. For us, to live is to establish the Kingdom of God, and your prayer mean a great deal to us,” Molochansk Mennonite Church pastor Alexey Makaiov stated.
How you can pray for Ukraine:
- Pray for God-inspired wisdom for Ukrainian pastors so they continue to speak truth and peace
- Pray for protection for the people displaced by the conflict.
- Pray for safety and healing in the communities affected by violence.
- Pray for unity among the Christians, so they continue to be salt and light regardless of the challenges they face.
Ukrainian Mennonite churches pray that they will continue to serve according to the gospel. “In spite of the fact that it is difficult, our Mennonite brothers and sisters don’t stop. In November, we plan to open a church in the city of Berdiansk [not far from the conflict zone],” says Alexey Makaiov via email. He indicates that New Hope Church in Zaporozhye continues to expand its vocational training opportunities.
“We pray that the family of Mennonites in Ukraine will multiply.”
As winter approaches, the eight Mennonite churches are preparing to offer “Warm Church” for a second time in December and January. Power cuts and fuel shortages leave homes and schools cold during the worst of winter. With support from MB Mission (the Mennonite Brethren mission agency), the churches heat their buildings each day. They invite the community to this warm haven offering food, activities and the hope of the gospel. MB Mission also purchased a van for the church leaders who make regular trips to visit soldiers and bring relief supplies to citizens in the conflict region of Donbass.
“We continue to pray for Ukraine – and for the world – for a repentance and humility of the people before God,” says Makaiov.—Karla Braun