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Ukraine flags raised at an anti-war demonstration
 

As the world's focus remains on the devastating violence being inflicted on the people of Ukraine, many are wondering what this could mean for those of the country's Christian community. In the days leading up to the initial attack by Russian forces, pastors spoke messages of encouragement and care. In fact, so many Ukrainians were seeking God for needed comfort, and wanting to turn to the Scriptures in search of answers, that the Bible Society store in Kyiv ran out of Bibles.

If Russia happens to be successful in taking control of Ukraine, severe religious restrictions will be anticipated. At present, evangelism is illegal in Russia except in designated, registered locations. Those who spread the Gospel outside of those locations face strict fines. In Russian-occupied Crimea, fines were levied for "conducting missionary activity" at least 23 times during 2021.

Parts of the Luhansk and Donetsk areas of eastern Ukraine declared independence in 2014 and are presently under the rule of Russian-backed separatists. Immediately prior to beginning his offensive, Putin declared support for these breakaway regions, officially recognizing them as independent states. Within these regions, religious rights have been severely restricted since the rebels took control. All Protestant and non-Moscow Patriarchate Orthodox churches have been declared illegal. Christian books, including a translation of the Gospel of John, have been banned as "extremist" materials and churches have faced raids and harassment. For more details, see these reports. Similar restrictions are anticipated in any area that may potentially come under the control of the Russian government.

In the midst of this turbulent time, may God's peace calm the hearts of the people in Ukraine, as well as others around the world, as they face the uncertainties of the war. May each one come to place their trust and hope in Him. Pray that members of the Russian government will reverse their destructive actions, opting to pursue a humanitarian outcome instead. In the meanwhile, may churches in Poland and other neighbouring countries be adequately equipped with the necessary resources as they reach out with the love of Christ to the hundreds of thousands who are being forced to flee their homes in search of safety. In addition, please continue to remember the Christians who have been living under severe restrictions in disputed areas for the past eight years.

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