Faith in Kiev

January 29, 2014

The images coming out of the Ukrainian capital of Kiev lately have been quite stunning as anti-government protesters and riot police fight in the streets. The Baptist World Alliance recently released an appeal featuring the comments of Pavel Unguryan, a Baptist youth leader who formerly served as a Member of Parliament in Ukraine. Unguryan stated:

Today, as never before, Ukraine desperately needs prayer. ... In light of recent events, we realize that only Almighty God can reconcile the conflicting parties and stop the violence and bloodshed in the country. ... We kindly ask you once again to join us in prayer and fasting for a peaceful solution of the situation in Ukraine.
Unguryan also criticized the government for "ignoring the demands of hundreds of thousands" of protesters who seek "the cancellation of a number of laws adopted on January 16, which severely restrict the constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens." Describing the scene in Kiev, he added:
...this confrontation resulted in a conflict which like a spark ignited the anger of protesters. In response the law enforcement officers used against protesters stun grenades, teargas, water cannons and traumatic weapons. The protesters 'armed' themselves with catapults and started hurling stones, tiles, and fire bombs at the police. Thick black smoke from burning tires engulfed the city.
With this fiery scene as the backdrop, some amazing images of Orthodox priests have emerged. Several of the priests from the largest denomination in the nation have been standing in the gap between the two sides, hoping to calm the violence. The New York Daily News collected several photos of their brave action for peace, and other publications have featured some images in their stories about the violence (such as here and here). These images of these priests standing with only Bibles, crosses, and incense between the armed police and the armed protesters paint an amazing picture of radical peacemaking and faith. Hopefully their witness will impact those fighting and others worldwide who see the photos.

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