MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Friday, February 24th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Myrna Brown.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. One year ago today, Russian troops began their invasion of Ukraine. We reported on it in the early days.
KENT COVINGTON: [Explosion] Russian troops and tanks continue to pour into the country this morning. Ukraine’s Health Ministry said at least 57 Ukrainians were killed on day-one of the invasion. And the bloodshed is likely to multiply many times over in the weeks ahead.
If only we knew. Since that time, as many as 20,000 civilians and more than 300,000 Russian and Ukrainian military forces have been killed or wounded. As many as 8 million Ukrainians have been displaced.
BROWN: When you hear numbers like that, it’s easy to wonder, what is God doing? To help answer that question, today we welcome Slavik Pyzh, president of Ukrainian Baptist Theological Seminary in Lviv, Ukraine. He says that even though he’s personally witnessed a lot of misery, pain, and devastation over the last year, God has been doing quite a lot in his country.
SLAVIK PYZH, COMMENTATOR: In the midst of that suffering, we have observed much Good, Courage, Compassion, Generosity and Acts of Beauty. That is also our reality. It has been truly beautiful to see God’s people in dynamic missional work. Many churches across Ukraine have opened their doors and become refugee centers to thousands of people affected by war. They provide housing, meals and clothes to people as well as the Gospel, Bible studies, Christian counseling. Some churches transport humanitarian aid to the front lines and liberated areas.
Many people forced to leave their homes have now become volunteers, serving others in need. They were blessed and now they have become a blessing to others. That gives our nation a sort of internal ‘fuel’ to continue to pray and fight for freedom and victory.
I have the privilege to serve at UBTS. Since the war started, we have served more than 10,000 refugees with resources like housing, meals, and spiritual care. Across Ukraine, we helped create 14 WeCare Centers to share our faith, build morality and patriotism, and support the local government and economy. We’ve also helped thousands of people relocate to other countries with our European Initiative. Our big desire has been to help refugees overcome a “victim” mentality and learn to rebuild, thrive, and share their faith. We hope to lay the groundwork for revival in Europe among Ukrainian refugees and the Europeans who serve them.
Back in the summer, our seminary transitioned to being a school again. Yes, air raids occur several times a day and classes often meet in our bomb shelter. But we believe it’s worth it to continue to equip leaders for the church.
Today, we live in a country with a devastated economy and high unemployment. We face overwhelming social issues like destroyed families, increased addictions, PTSD, and unresolved anger and grief. At the same time, we as the Church have an incredible opportunity to respond to suffering with a Matthew 25 approach: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
We are working to grow churches with this mentality–not isolated from society nor existing “for” society, but serving alongside or “with” our society. That, I believe, will make a huge difference in the days to come.
I’m Slavik Pyzh.
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