After watching their country erupt into months of angry anti-government protests, Christians in Ukraine praised a peace deal that ended the protests as well as the appointment of Baptist pastor Dr. Oleksandr Turchynov as their interim president.
The Ukrainian parliament voted to impeach President Viktor Yanukovych after he fled the country during deadly protests. Oleksandr Turchynov, a pastor and right hand man to politician Yulia Tymoshenko, who was recently released from a two-year stint in prison, was elected interim president until May 25 when the country is expected to hold a presidential election.
"Joy and sadness overfills our hearts as we celebrate the news of birth of a New Ukraine and grieve for the young men, students and husbands who died for this to happen," said the European Baptist Federation in a statement Sunday.
"The Parliament has taken a responsibility to end the crisis in the country and adopted a number of vital laws. Our brother in Christ and minister of one of the Kiev Baptist Churches Dr. Oleksandr Turchynov, a leading opposition lawmaker, was elected Speaker of parliament. Among other rapid development Ukraine's ex-minister Yulia Tymoshenko also was released from prison after which she was taken in a wheelchair to Kiev to make a speech at the Independence Square in Kiev. The Parliament also voted to remove President Viktor Yanukovych and set new presidential elections for May 25," the Federation summed.
Highlighting the joy that has come to the people of Ukraine following the painful protests, the Federation noted that Christians played an important role during the protests.
"During all these days of protests and confrontations, the Christian community in Ukraine has been the light and the salt for both parties. The doctors, nurses, cooks, students and other Christian groups have been helping whenever there was a need."
Churches and denominations prayed and fasted together for peace and for God's intervention, according to the Baptist organization.
"People started crying out to God and even the TV media spoke about the role of the church and quoted Scriptures," the group noted.
Despite the joy expressed over the current peace deal, however, the Federation called on people of faith to help pray for the maintenance of peace in Ukraine.
"Unfortunately, many people have much anger and hatred for opponents. People are disappointed in all politicians and do not want to forgive anyone. Many are determined just to revenge, burn and bring about injuries. But we need to face this challenge with Christ. What Ukraine needs is not just a change of people in authority but a change of the system and the relationship of the authorities to ordinary citizens. Ukraine needs love, mercy and forgiveness. Ukraine needs Christ!"