As churches come together to bring practical help and pray for Ukraine, it a powerful demonstration of God’s love, says Gwyn Williams
When the Church functions as it should, it is beautiful. And the Church’s unity as it responds to the Ukraine crisis has deeply moved my heart. It’s been inspirational to see the surge of donations and practical aid, but even more amazing are the strong partnerships forming between UK churches, those in eastern Europe, and right across the world. We stand as one in the face of great evil.
Sadly, we often underestimate the unique power of unity in the Church, but the Ukraine crisis has been a catalyst for churches to step up worldwide and join forces in an outpouring of practical and spiritual care that reflects God’s heart: “He has pity on the weak and the needy… From oppression and violence, he redeems their life” says Psalm 72:13-14. And when churches unite to reach out in love as God’s people, the gospel flourishes.
A greater vision
I believe that we, as the Church, have a mandate to always be on mission, instead of treating it as a separate department or ministry. Mission is for the whole Church, but mission cannot work unless there is unity, “being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind” (Philippians 2:2).
When the body of Christ comes together, the love of God is more powerful than any darkness
But how do we build unity? The answer is by setting aside our differences and focussing on what connects us – the love of Jesus. In Acts 13, Paul and Barnabas taught believers in Antioch, a multi-national city, to connect with each other in spite of their differences. Moving on to Philippi in obedience to Jesus’ mandate to reach the nations, they did exactly the same thing by connecting with Lydia and using her networks to reach that community. As in the early Church, churches in Ukraine and across the nations must connect and stand in unity during this crisis to have the greatest impact. This sends a powerful message to the world about God’s love.
A nation in crisis
In 2019, I visited Izmail, a multi-cultural city in southern Ukraine, famed for its generosity and warm welcome. This was certainly the case at the Well of Living Water church, pastored by Alex IIash, where I marvelled at how well the church served the surrounding area, providing Sunday lunch for local families, a soup kitchen in the busy port and food packs for poor families in nearby villages.
You can imagine my sadness when I heard that, on day five of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Izmail had been targeted by Russian forces because of a nearby military radar mast. Yet the church continues to shine, showing God’s love as it hands out food to residents, hot meals to soldiers, helps women and children evacuate and faithfully prays.
Alex Ilash writes: “My prayer is that this kingdom culture of reaching out to people strengthens us all to be as one in helping our brothers and sisters in Christ, in the physical and spiritual front line of battling against forces that are determined to be destructive…” There is great power in unity.
Christ’s love poured out
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has warned that the exodus of people fleeing Ukraine could become “the biggest refugee crisis this century.”
“Rivers of tears and blood are flowing in Ukraine” - Pope Francis
The unity of the Church is a beacon in this time of great darkness. Churches in Ukraine and its bordering countries are working as one to bring practical and spiritual relief to the suffering – a brilliant example of churches fulfilling the role God has given us. These include Feed The Hungry church partners, like Pastor Yan’s church in Odessa, the third biggest city in Ukraine, which has set up a kitchen serving meals for the needy.
Pastor Oleg, in neighboring Moldova is helping 1,700 refugees a day, even though Moldova itself is in a state of emergency. Pastor Michal’s church, in Poland, is providing meals, food, hot showers and bedding for hundreds of refugees daily, while Pastor Andrey in Kyiv helps transport women and children out of the war zone to safety.
A call to action
It’s glorious to see such a huge network of churches partnering together, united by compassion. I urge you to keep praying for the people of Ukraine because we believe in a God of miracles, but I also urge you to give as much as you can so we can continue to provide aid in this cruel and unjust war. Rise up, Church, and show that when the body of Christ comes together, the love of God is more powerful than any darkness.
You can donate to Feed the Hungry’s emergency Ukraine appeal here.