Ukrainian Baptists

February 25, 2014

The news from Ukraine continues to offer political instability with conflicting claims of leadership and authority (over the weekend, the Parliament ousted the controversial president but he is in hiding and calling the effort a "coup"). In this vacuum, Christian leaders continue to minister. I previously noted the brave witness of Orthodox monks standing the gap between the police and the protesters in hopes of bringing peace. The Washington Post put together a set of more photos showing this prophetic witness in the midst of violence. Additionally, the European Baptist Federation (a regional body of the Baptist World Alliance) issued a report last Wednesday from Pavel Unguryan, International Missions Department Director with Ukrainian Baptists, that referenced the ministry of Baptist churches in Kiev. As he urged the international Baptist community to pray for Ukraine, he noted that local churches in Kiev were being used as infirmaries for injured protesters (and that the headquarters of the Baptist Union would also be used if needed). He explained, "We see it as an opportunity to witness of our love to Jesus and our neighbor." Amen! Another report from Unguryan on Sunday praised God for peace and the new political developments that saw the nation's Parliament oust the president. He added that the Parliament chose Oleksandr Turchynov, who is also a Baptist minister, to serve as the nation's interim leader (a Baptist Times piece offers more background about Turchynov). In a nation religious dominated by the Orthodox Church, is it highly surprising to see a Baptist rise to such a position. In this week's statement, Unguryan also noted the role Christians played during the crisis:
During all these days of protests and confrontations the Christian community in Ukraine has been the light and the salt for both parties. The doctors, nurses, cooks, students and other Christian groups have been helping whenever there was a need. ... Several days ago the volunteers of the Hungarian Rescue Team arrived in Ukraine to serve our people and help us recover.
It is great to see Baptists working to rebuild the nation, although much more work is needed. As Unguryan noted, there is still much political distrust in the country.  Hopefully peace will come and stay.


UPDATE [2-26-14]: Christianity Today ran a piece on Turchynov's rise as interim president. The article include a statement from Valery Antonyuk, Vice President of the All Ukrainian Union of Evangelical Churches, Baptist.

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