December 1 - Pray for: Ukraine

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Ukraine’s location as a gateway between East and West has always left it in a vulnerable position. The Russian invasion of 2022, Russian support of the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, the occupation of the Crimea and the Euromaidan of 2014, and the Orange Revolution of 2004-5 all demonstrate Russia’s determination to dominate Ukraine. They also equally demonstrate Ukraine’s determination to be free. Millions of Ukrainians have been displaced, and tens of thousands have been killed. Whenever the conflict ends, rebuilding from the devastation will take years, or even decades. Even more complicated will be the healing of trauma experienced and, hopefully, an eventual reconciliation with its neighbour. Pray for the intervention of the God who makes wars cease to the ends of the earth and who breaks the bow and shatters the spear (Psa 46:9). Pray Psalm 10:17-18 over Ukraine – that the Lord would hear the desire of the afflicted, encourage them, and listen to their cries. Pray for wisdom from above, and divine fortitude for Ukraine’s leaders and its people. 


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The Soviet Union dissolved over 30 years ago, but its shadow still looms over Ukraine. Even before the ruin visited upon the country from 2022, Ukraine was struggling to emerge from its Soviet-era shackles. The unmanaged market economy of the '90s and ‘00s drove many deeper into poverty while a few powerful oligarchs gained extreme wealth through corrupt means. Such corruption remains a challenge even today. Communism’s demise as a governing ideology left an empty space without values or morals. This led to a rapid increase of hopelessness, alcoholism and drug abuse, and the spread of sexually transmitted disease. Not post-Soviet oligarchism, nor hedonistic materialism, nor societal nihilism can bring lasting and meaningful identity to Ukraine. Remarkably, 2022 invasion has catalyzed a growing national identity. But a flourishing of the real gospel can do this even more fully, while also giving platform and opportunity for the Church, both Ukrainian and global, to minister to the many needs of this nation.

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Ukraine has a strong Christian legacy, and evangelicals emerged stronger and more numerous from 130 years of sustained persecution in which millions of Christians were killed. Freedom of religion is vastly improved but not yet enshrined in both law and practice. Pray for the Church to engage this new context with boldness. There are several challenges:

  • Reconciliation and unity. For centuries, there was strife between and within Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and Protestantism. In the Soviet era, each confession was split between those who collaborated with and those who resisted the Communist regime. Russia’s aggressions have rendered the Russian Orthodox Church a pariah (apart from in the breakaway regions). But the other Christian groups are experiencing unprecedented unity and solidarity in the face of terrible suffering. Pray that all those who claim to follow Jesus and lead in His name demonstrate the character and heart of Christ to one another, and even to their enemies, especially when hatred and bitterness are such easy alternatives. 
  • The emergence of the newer churches is a great blessing, though it has upset the balance of the religious establishment. Dynamism, Western style and African leadership have ruffled some feathers amongst more traditional groups. Pray for sensitivity and gracious attitudes for all, and for ways to maximize both the spiritual fervour of newer groups and the remarkable spiritual heritage of more traditional ones.
  • Christian ministry and church growth have been profoundly disrupted by the Russian invasion in most of the country. Before, there were very real limitations due to needs for training, infrastructure, adequate facilities, and active input from lay Christians. From 2022, many churches and ministries were either in survival mode, were displaced, or shuttered completely. Yet, opportunities for holistic and compassionate ministries abound, and to miss this open door would be a shame. Pray for a mentality of abundance and generosity that will help provide for the millions of fellow Ukrainians in need. Pray that aid and support from external sources might be used well and with integrity, blessing those who need it most.  
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Leadership training will remain a long-term and strategic need in Ukraine. Twenty years of sustained growth created thousands of new congregations requiring leadership formation. There are dozens of seminaries, Bible schools and institutes, the capacities of which must grow to meet current and future demands. Western agencies contribute helpfully in this area, including SGA, GEM, Calvary Chapel Mission, Baptist and Pentecostal groups and others. Pray for them to serve professionally and humbly. Ask for God's provision for good academic resources and textbooks, for building projects and also funding for student scholarships. The recent years of destruction and scattering only increase the need for godly, well-trained leadership. Some training infrastructure may never be restored; pray that God will inspire and provide for new models and structures that will serve Ukraine well in the current time and the times to come. 

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Indigenous agencies. A blossoming of agencies followed independence with Ukrainians working in outreach (evangelism, literature, media), with children (in summer camps and schools), and especially in humanitarian work (with prisoners, hospitals, orphanages and soup kitchens). Pentecostals/charismatics and Baptists minister both within Ukraine and without, sending missionaries to other former Soviet states. Most of this was disrupted in 2022-2023. Ukrainian capacity to support home-end ministry was stretched to its limits, never mind the ability to support missionaries abroad. Pray for what was a burgeoning Ukrainian missionary movement - for further growth, provision, and fruitful partnership with agencies from outside Ukraine. 

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Content taken or adapted from Operation World, 7th Edition (2010) and Pray for the World (2015). Both books are published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.