As a Ukrainian American, I was raised in the Slavic community of upstate New York. I have many family members who are still in Ukraine. When Russia hit Ukraine, it hit all of us whether we still live in our home country or not.
When Russia began its initial strikes on Ukraine, World Challenge’s friend and partner, Mykhailo Panochko, senior bishop of the Ukrainian Evangelical Church, sent out a message of encouragement to the community.
“Fear and panic might settle into our hearts,” Bishop Panochko said, “and it’s not easy to hear this, but this historic moment has been allowed by God. His ways are not our ways. We cannot change the situation in Ukraine, but we can change the situation in our hearts. What things do we need to keep peace? There are 2 things needed. First, trust in God that not a hair will fall from your head without Him knowing. Second, He has given us a weapon of warfare: the right to come to Him in prayer. Then we can have a different worldview on what’s happening.
“We are believers. We have someone to put our hope in. We have someone to turn to. We fully believe that everything — the future of the church — is in God’s hands. Our refuge is in God. The most important thing is to trust in Him. Do not let fear dwell in your hearts.”
He added this verse, “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8, ESV).
This faith and dependence on God are what has caused hundreds of Christians to sing songs of worship in Kyiv’s subways that are serving as impromptu bomb-shelters, switching between hymns and prayer sometimes for hours. Faith and dependence is what is upholding mothers as they cross with their children as refugees into other countries and are forced to leave their husbands and loved ones behind to fight.
As we are hearing of the firsthand tragic accounts of what Ukrainians are facing, we can all feel hopeless. I would like to offer three things that you can do.
First, Ukraine needs prayer. Please pray for unity in the Slavic church. Normally, the Slavic community is very unified between people from the Eastern Bloc nations, but now some churches in the United States are struggling with discord between Ukrainians and Russians. There’s a lot of pain and some misinformation. Please pray that there will be compassion between people.
Secondly, if you have a local Ukrainian or Slavic church, reach out to them. All the families who belong to these churches have family in Ukraine. We are all connected one way or another and are in pain over this war.
Finally, World Challenge is working with our partners on the ground in both Ukraine and Russia to offer encouragement, finances, and resources. We are working with our Slavic churches in America to support them and send aid as needed. Consider partnering with us.
As the events in Ukraine continue to unfold, I hope you will join me in praying for peace and unity. As Christians, we have a great opportunity to show others how to exhibit compassion and faith.
Anna Grot is a Ukrainian American who has family and friends back home in Ukraine. She works with World Challenge to minister to others around the world.