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Illinois church makes over 700 crosses to show support for Ukraine: 'God will help them'

East Jordan United Methodist Church
Members of East Jordan United Methodist Church of Sterling, Illinois, make crosses for people to take home and use to spread awareness of the plight of the Ukrainians. |

A congregation in Illinois has made and handed out hundreds of wooden crosses for people to put in their yards as a reminder to think about and pray for Ukrainians suffering under the Russian invasion. 

East Jordan United Methodist Church of Sterling began making white crosses 18 inches tall and 12 inches wide in late February when Russia launched its invasion of neighboring Ukraine.

Pastor Jim Miller of East Jordan UMC told The Christian Post that his church has handed out just over 700 crosses and is still making more.

"Everybody in the nation, if they got a heart, wants to do something," said Miller. "We don't have the wherewithal to go there and help out. Most people would be too afraid to go, but if we truly are Christian, then we believe that God will help them."

Miller said the church decided to make crosses that could be planted outdoors because he believes that, given the invasion, Ukrainians would not be safe doing so themselves.

"Ukraine is tremendous as far as being a Christian nation, but they're being persecuted," he continued. "So, we decided since they can't plant crosses, we will."

East Jordan United Methodist Church
East Jordan United Methodist Church of Sterling, Illinois, put crosses on their property for people to take home and use to spread awareness of the plight of the Ukrainian people. |

Once completed, the small crosses are placed by a two-sided marquee sign on the church property, where people can park their car, get out and take one for their home.  

Miller considers the response to the church's cross ministry to be "amazing." He noted that many people have told him "why they're doing it, who they are doing it for."

"The biggest problem we see in our human condition in this nation and for the world is that every morning, you turn on the news and you get a new crisis and our interest and our attention on the previous crisis wanes and disappears," said Miller.

"I'm hoping that putting out the crosses will remind people of those poor people that are suffering. Just because we might turn it off in our minds, we can't turn their needs off. So this is like the biggest reason we are doing it."

East Jordan UMC also takes up a special offering every Sunday on behalf of the Ukrainians and holds a prayer meeting each Wednesday.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24, with Russian President Vladimir Putin claiming it to be on behalf of pro-Russian separatists living in Eastern Ukraine.

Although it was expected that Russia would secure an easy victory over their smaller Eastern European neighbor, the Ukrainian population continues to mount a fierce resistance.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has recorded 11,544 civilian casualties in Ukraine as of July 11 — 5,024 killed and 6,520 injured.

The death toll includes at least 141 girls, 161 boys and 41 children whose sex is yet unknown. 

"Most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems, and missile and air strikes," the agency reports. 

"OHCHR believes that the actual figures are considerably higher, as the receipt of information from some locations where intense hostilities have been going on has been delayed and many reports are still pending corroboration."

Some scholars have compared the current conflict to the 1850s Crimean War in which Tsarist Russia tried and failed to acquire territory along the Black Sea despite its large army.

"There are very distinct parallels," said Orlando Figes, a British historian and author, in an interview with National Public Radio. "And I think Putin has probably overstretched himself in the same way that Nicholas I did."

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