A letter arrived recently from Dr. Harold Sala, a friend of mine for more than half a century. He has established a significant Christian radio ministry called Guidelines International Ministries. In Eastern Ukraine he broadcasts Russian language programs through the station facilities of the Far East Broadcasting Company, He writes, “Pro-Soviet troops attacked the FEBC station, killed four men simply because of their faith. One man had eight children and two of the men were brothers.” He also writes of the “teachers at Donetsk Christian University who were ordered to leave their homes within 24 hours or be executed.”
The pro-Russian military activity in Eastern Ukraine is more than a ‘land grab’ campaign. It is an effort to stifle the strong Christian voice that has been birthed there. But this attempt to extinguish the lamp of Christian freedom may backfire on Putin and his henchmen.
When I first went to Ukraine more than twenty-one years ago one my goals was to encourage the establishment of a Ukraine military chaplaincy. I was invited to visit the Ministry of Defense in Kiev to discuss my ideas with officers there. Lt. Colonel Chevelchia, head of the Religious Affairs Department, liked much of what I had to offer. However, he rejected my suggestion that the government approve the formation of a military chaplaincy. His response explained why the government would not sanction a military chaplaincy department.
“Chaplain, in America your different religious bodies are able to work together to provide spiritual ministry throughout the armed forces,” the Colonel began. “In Ukraine our different ecclesiastical bodies are constantly fighting each other. There are several different Orthodox confessions and each is trying to gain precedence over all the others. Our Ministry of Defense will not, dare not, allow this kind of religious warfare to take place on its turf.”
Now for the ‘good’. A minister friend in Ukraine has told me that this current crisis has drawn the Christian community together as nothing else has done. Christians meet together across denominational lines for prayer, intercession and worship. He believes that God is using the threat of loss of national freedom, in a very positive way, to unify the body of Christ. Large numbers of refugees driven out of Eastern Ukraine by Russian activists and sympathizers have come as far west as where our ministry is located near the Hungarian and Slovakian borders. A united Church is reaching out to them in love and compassion. If you would like to help our Ukrainian brothers and sisters in Western Ukraine assist the refugees from Eastern Ukraine, I have reliable contacts there who would appreciate and welcome your assistance. Just contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yours for Christ and Ukraine,
Chaplain Glenn Brown
Published on on August 20th, 2014