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We in Ukraine fight to preserve our faith, family and freedom

(Graphic content) Relatives, friends and comrades pay last respect during farewell ceremony for Ukrainian servicemen Sergii Konoval, call sign 'Nord', and Taras Petryshyn, call sign 'Chimera', who were killed fighting Russian troops in Donetsk region, at the Independence Square in Kyiv, on April 9, 2024, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
(Graphic content) Relatives, friends and comrades pay last respect during farewell ceremony for Ukrainian servicemen Sergii Konoval, call sign "Nord", and Taras Petryshyn, call sign "Chimera", who were killed fighting Russian troops in Donetsk region, at the Independence Square in Kyiv, on April 9, 2024, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. | AFP via Getty Images/ Genya Savilov

KYIV, Ukraine – Many conservatives and traditionalists in the West have one very big bug – they consciously or subconsciously consider Russia to be the defender of conservative and traditional values. And exactly that image prevents them from categorically and radically opposing the evil that is approaching the world today from the side of Russia. But common sense and critical thinking oblige us to pay attention to the facts that prove the following: it is Ukraine that is a stronghold of traditional and Christian values in Europe.

Historical churches

There are about 20,000 Orthodox parishes and communities in Ukraine. We are the country with the largest Orthodox population in Europe. But another fact is also interesting – the number of truly Orthodox people who visit Orthodox churches on the biggest Christian holiday - Easter. Let's look at the statistics of 2019 – before the beginning of the pandemic, when participation in church services was not limited in any way. According to official data from the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia, on April 28, 2019, 4.3 million believers visited Russian Orthodox churches. On the same day in Ukraine, according to official data from the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, 6.7 million believers visited Orthodox churches. The population of Russia is four times larger than that of Ukraine, but 50% fewer people came to church on Easter compared to Ukraine.

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There is also an eloquent fact about Catholics: the largest Catholic church of the Greek rite in the world, is again, right in Ukraine.

Evangelical churches

Among all the former USSR republics, Ukraine has always had the largest number of evangelical Protestant churches - Baptists, Pentecostals, Charismatics, Free Evangelicals, and Seventh-day Adventists. The same statistics have been preserved since the independence of our country. For example, the Baptist Union in Ukraine is the largest in Europe – more than 2,500 communities. Almost 2,000 communities have Pentecostal churches (only Romania is ahead of us in this category). There are about 1,000 communities of Charismatics and Free Evangelicals. And if you visit the regions of Russian Siberia, then in every large place you can find a church that was founded by missionaries from Ukraine in the late 80s and early 90s. Ukraine has been the main source of missionaries in this region for over a hundred years.

Religious freedom

Ukraine is a country of absolute religious freedom. This was the case during all the years of independence, and today it remains so. More than 30 thousand different religious communities of different confessions and religions freely and without restrictions name their religious practice. Almost all of them voluntarily join three large structures: the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations, the Ukrainian Inter-Church Council, and the Council of Evangelical Protestant Churches.

It should be emphasized separately that even the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is structurally subordinate to the Moscow Patriarch Kirill, continues to carry out its religious activities in Ukraine in all regions. It is NOT prohibited, it functions legally and openly.

In contrast to this, there is a completely different situation in Russia, where the religious activities of all denominations are completely controlled by special services and the government.  In the territories of Ukraine occupied by Russia, churches are closed, and prayer houses are confiscated by the Kremlin regime. For example, in the Russian-occupied Ukrainian city of Melitopol, the temple of “Blagodat” (Grace) Baptist Church was turned into the Russian "ministry of culture" of this region, the free evangelical Melitopol Christian Church with a hall for 1,000 people was turned into a concert hall, and the building of the "Word of Life" Church was given over to the needs of the occupation police. And, of course, crosses were cut everywhere and Russian flags were erected. The Bolshevik Communists did exactly the same one hundred years ago when they established their power.

Family movement

Some of the largest organized family movements in Europe operate in Ukraine. For example, street mass festivals "United Together for Family" were held before the Great War in 65 towns during the spring and summer seasons. More than 270,000 participants from all regions took part in them. When initiatives to legalize same-sex partnerships began to be announced in 2017, more than 100 local councils voted on the decision and appealed to the President and the Parliament to prevent this. Ukraine is one of the few countries in Europe where same-sex partnerships or "marriages" are not legal.

Finally – alittle bit of something personal

My hometown is Skadovsk in the Kherson region. It has been occupied by the Russian army since March 2022. Most of the active residents fled the city. More than half of our church congregation fled the city, including my sister's family. All of them, saving their families, became internally displaced persons throughout Ukraine – without homes, friends, or businesses. Many are refugees abroad.

Living in Kyiv, I lead a large movement "United Together for Family" in Ukraine. For more than 20 years, our team has systematically worked to maintain and promote the natural order of things, to protect faith, family, and freedom. Vitalii Vynogradov was a member of the Board of our organization for many years. He lived in Bucha... when the Russian occupation forces left the city on April 1, 2022, we found the shot body of our friend, which had been lying on the road for almost a month... Vitalii Vynogradov, the organizer of many street family festivals in Ukraine, was shot by the Russian occupiers at the very beginning of the war.

The Kremlin and Putin bring war, destruction, occupation, and death. They destroyed hundreds of Christian churches in Ukraine and killed thousands of families. Religious freedom is destroyed, children are killed with missiles, and flourishing cities are turned into incinerators.

Russia has declared war on Ukraine, which is a stronghold of traditional and Christian values in Europe.

We in Ukraine expect that our friends in the West will finally stop consuming Russian false propaganda. Instead, they will become full-grown to help us preserve the most valuable thing, our home – Ukraine, our families and children, our lives and freedom. Evil has come to our land – the Russian occupation forces. We in Ukraine have taken up the fight to overcome this evil. Will you stand by us? For faith, for family, for freedom!

Please, watch and share myEnglish subtitled documentary – DE OCCUPATION. A full-length documentary about the war in Ukraine and its dramatic consequences. A screen story consists of several storylines. The story of the film is based on the fate of three settlements and the fate of two families.

Ruslan Kukharchuk is a Ukrainian journalist and Christian media leader as president of Novomedia, which ncludes hundreds of Christian and secular journalists.  He is also an author, speaker, and well-known spokesman for Christian values in all areas of life.

Shortly after Russia invaded western Ukraine in 2014, Ruslan was at the front area checking on ministries and churches there. He was kidnapped by Russian separatists, A hood thrown over his head and taken to a small basement room where he was interrogated and beaten for twenty-four hours. By God’s grace, he was released.

When many have fled Ukraine since the 2022 war started, Ruslan Kukharchuk has stayed in Kyiv with his wife and five young children, sensing the Lord’s call and assignment for ministry.

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