Christians in Ukraine have called for prayer after the revolution which saw President Viktor Yanukovych ousted and a provisional government put in place.
The interim President, Dr Oleksandr Turchynov, is a Baptist pastor and former Deputy Prime Minister in the administration of former opposition politician Yulia Tymoshenko. An economics professor, he is widely respected for his integrity
The country faces severe economic and political problems, both internal and external, particularly in its relations with Russia.
The vice-president of the All Ukrainian Union of Evangelical Churches, Rev Valery Antonyuk, issued a moving ‘message of reconciliation’, saying: ‘During this time of fateful change in the life of the Ukrainian nation, the Church and each Christian individually cannot remain spectators on the sidelines of the battles and losses. The Church serves society and mourns together with it.’
He called for a return to ‘justice and the due process of law’ and the formation of a democratically elected government. However, he continued: ‘On behalf of the Church we must say more, we must speak the whole truth; we must say that which is still hard to accept and fulfill; that which is a precondition for a better future.
‘Therefore the Church calls the Ukrainian nation to more than just feelings of human justice – to Christian forgiveness, grace, and reconciliation.’
He concluded: ‘We also call upon the international Christian community asking for prayer and intercession for the Ukrainian nation and for help with peacemaking. We mourn for the victims, and thank God for his grace toward Ukraine, and pray for peace and spiritual revival in our nation.’
Ukrainian pastor Igor Bandura, who is partnered with the Slavic Gospel Association, also spoke of the needs of his country and warned of the danger of separatism. ‘This is a great time to witness about God’s love,’ he said. ‘Pray for God’s wisdom for all our pastors as people are looking for many answers about the situation.’
Rev John Calhoun, a United Methodist Church missionary in Ukraine’s capital Kiev, visited Independence Square after the end of demonstrations against Yanukovych’s government. He said: ‘The mood on the square was sombre, yet hopeful. The sacrifices made by those demonstrating for freedom and honest government during these dark days will be remembered for generations to come.’
Calhoun added: ‘Please, keep on praying. Our political leaders need wisdom to build a new government based on democratic norms; our religious leaders need courage to continue proclaiming truth and love and hope; ordinary families need encouragement to keep working together to build a more just society.’