By now many of you are aware of the crisis taking place in Ukraine as Russian forces attempt an advance into the country with the supposed purpose of a “demilitarization” and “denazification”. However, many Russian soldiers on the ground have openly confessed to their captors that they had been tricked by their military to believe they were on training exercises and do not want to be in Ukraine (perhaps wisdom calls us to take the words of the captured with a grain of salt). The Russian government has engaged in an unprovoked, unlawful and underhanded invasion of Ukraine which is rightly condemned.
Air strikes and the advancement of tanks and other military vehicles and personnel on the ground have led to many lamentable deaths and the departure of many more Ukrainians who are now fleeing the country.
In such a situation on the global stage, we may feel at a loss as to how we can help and be involved. Firstly, we are called to:
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
The words “continue steadfastly” can also mean “to be close at hand”. In other areas of life, we may find ourselves exhausting our abilities before turning to prayer but the call of scripture is that prayer be close at hand; that prayer be our first inclination. This is a call to firmly believe through faith in Christ that we have communion with God the Father in the strength of the Spirit and are invited to make requests of our Father as beloved children as our natural response and to humbly confess not our will but His be done.
Pray that our Father would bring the hostilities to an end in Ukraine. Pray that He would give strength to those who are now fleeing the country. But most of all, pray that the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ would shine in such a dark place, that a harvest of eternal life may be reaped from the ashes of humanity engaged in active destruction. Pray that, “the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you” (2 Thessalonians 3:1).
Secondly, we are called to act:
If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
Faith must also be accompanied by action. In global situations like this, it is hard to know how we can be practically engaged in “giving them the things needed for the body”. One resource I want to share with you as a good place to start is the EFCC Benevolence Fund – Ukraine Emergency Relief Fund:
“The Benevolence Policy states that ‘because people in need matter to God, as part of the ministry of the EFCC, benevolent financial assistance may sometimes be provided to individuals or families who are in a time of crisis or who are experiencing financial or material needs.’ This help could be for medical situations, to alleviate poverty, and to provide food and shelter and other basic needs.
Any missionary or mission leader who is aware of such needs can apply to the Benevolence Fund for help and will be held accountable for how those funds are distributed. A Benevolence Committee is established to determine how these funds will be disbursed.”
If you are hesitant about online giving, please feel free to make a donation in person at the church, marking your envelope with “Ukraine” and we will make sure it gets to the Emergency Relief Fund.
In this situation, I am reminded of the practical work which the brothers and sisters were involved in when the believers in Jerusalem were experiencing a famine and Paul was engaged in a collection on their behalf:
We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you — see that you excel in this act of grace also.
2 Corinthians 8:1-7
May we too as ones given to the Lord first, excel in acts of grace to others.