Displaying items by tag: Ukraine
Since the USSR broke up, Ukrainians have experienced freedom and democracy, but more importantly they have experienced freedom to preach the good news, resulting in masses of people being saved and many church plants. Ukraine is also a door for the Gospel to other, surrounding nations. Pray for the door to stay open and fulfil the command to ‘go into the world and preach the Gospel’. Pray for the work of Operation Mobilisation in Ukraine as it connects humanitarian aid with those in need. Pray particularly for traumatised displaced children who are receiving small stuffed baby tigers, with a pocket that holds an mp3 player of 38 recordings in Ukrainian for 3- to 11-year-olds. The stories point them to Father God and Jesus, with an emphasis on trauma relief. Please pray for God’s anointing on a team of youth workers in Vinnytsia organising six-day camps for traumatised children during August.
Ten people in Berdyansk, Ukraine, have been taken captive by Russian militia groups. They were kidnapped while helping evacuate residents from the southern port city, which Russia occupies. The captives include several Orphan's Promise (OP) volunteers, a driver, and an elderly couple who are the parents of a pastor who works with OP. Their whereabouts are unknown. These militia groups are known for their cruelty, especially to volunteers helping Ukrainians. Terry Meeuwsen, the founder of OP said, ‘We have no idea where this team is. We don't know if they're alive. We don't know if they're being cared for. We just have no idea. Being treated well has not been the traditional response by the Russians.’
John Harding moved to Ukraine in 2018 and has appeared in a video appealing for help from Boris Johnson. He is a captive of pro-Russian separatists in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) who told him he could face the death penalty. He was captured in May, while fighting with the Azov regiment of the Ukrainian National Guard, when Ukrainian units defending the south-eastern city of Mariupol were forced to surrender. Friends and family of Mr Harding confirmed to the BBC it was him in the video, and his family are being supported by the Foreign Office. He had been in eastern Ukraine's Donbas region to use his skills as a combat medic and help in the fight against pro-Russian rebels. Also, British aid worker Paul Urey, died while being held by pro-Russian separatists. DPR Officials said he died on 10 July from underlying health conditions and ‘stress’. Pray for the families whose fathers, brothers and sons are being held in appalling conditions.
Vladimir Putin visited Iran this week in only his second overseas trip since invading Ukraine. He received a red carpet welcome from Iran’s supreme leader who wants to strengthen long-term cooperation with Russia. Tehran and Moscow are both suffering under Western sanctions. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praised Putin for ensuring his country had ‘maintained its independence’ from America and said their two countries needed to remain vigilant against ‘Western deception’. Ahead of Putin’s arrival, Iranian officials indicated they could strike weapons deals with Russia. ‘Currently, we are ready to export military equipment and weapons’ said Iran's army ground forces commander. His comments came a week after America claimed Iran was planning to send hundreds of weapons-capable drones to Moscow for use in Ukraine. Meanwhile a Ukrainian missile struck a key bridge linking Russian-occupied Kherson city with the heavily militarised Crimean Peninsula, amid reports Kyiv is preparing to take back captured territory in the South.
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau pledged to send more military support for Ukraine at the NATO summit. His defence minister said that Canada will boost Ukraine’s arsenal by sending 39 General Dynamics-made armoured vehicles ‘this summer’. The fleet, which comprises combat support vehicles that can be used as ambulances, maintenance and recovery vehicles or to transport troops, is part of Ottawa’s $500m military support for Kyiv. They are in addition to a separate multi-billion dollar contract for 360 vehicles being delivered for the Canadian armed forces there.
Hunger is stalking the world. In 2017 the UN vowed to eradicate it by 2030. Yet the number of people affected globally reached 828 million last year, and an unprecedented 345 million are currently experiencing acute food insecurity. Since May 2020 there has been a 55% increase in the food price index. The head of the World Food Programme said, ‘We thought it could not get any worse’ - but the Ukraine war has worsened freight and fertiliser costs due to rising fuel prices, and has blocked ports. Ukraine and Russia previously accounted for almost one-third of global wheat exports. Many middle-income countries have spent large parts of their reserves due to the pandemic. Even in wealthier countries, more parents are going hungry to feed their children. In low-income countries rising prices are deadly. Around 2.3 billion people face moderate or severe difficulty obtaining enough to eat, which could result in social unrest and political violence.
Andrew Hill and Dylan Healy will stand trial for ‘mercenary activities’. Dylan is a chef who volunteered as an aid worker. He was captured with another Briton, Paul Urey, at a checkpoint in April while driving to a village to rescue a family. There is no news of Paul Urey. On the same day of their capture, Russia released a video of Andrew Hill in military uniform, saying he had surrendered. This follows last month’s death sentence for Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin who faced the same charges as Andrew and Dylan. Hearings are held at a Russian proxy court in eastern Ukraine, which is not internationally recognised. Russia has rejected calls for their release as they no longer implement the Strasbourg Court of Human Rights. The men’s fate is decided by the pro-Russian breakaway Donetsk People's Republic. Pray for the prisoners, who will be in atrocious conditions, and their families, who desperately want them home.
Snake Island is a critical outpost for controlling shipping lanes for the export of Ukrainian grain and accessing the key port of Odessa. After Moscow retreated from the Black Sea outpost in a ‘gesture of goodwill in order to organise humanitarian grain corridors’ they launched a barrage of strikes on the island. Russian Su-30 fighter jets used phosphorus bombs, according to the commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s army, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi. Phosphorus can kill, maim and poison victims, burning through bone upon contact with flesh. Ukrainian officials have accused Russia of using the weapons multiple times during Putin’s invasion, including in attacks last month on the western city of Lutsk and Popasna in the east. Pray for victims with phosphorus burns to be swiftly transported to medical burns units for skin grafts and specialised medical support. Pray for the registration of phosphorus as a chemical weapon under the Chemical Weapons Convention.
After President Zelensky told NATO he wants the war to finish ‘before winter sets in’, the UK pledged an additional £1bn of military aid to Ukraine. This brings UK military aid to £2.3bn plus £1.5bn spent in humanitarian and economic support. (Ukraine’s monthly defence cost is £4.12bn). The new £1bn comes from departmental underspends plus £95 million from Welsh and Scottish government budgets. Questions remain about whether the aid will be sufficient. Also, the Defence Secretary wants the government to increase spending on UK armed forces - to be prepared to invest more to keep people safe. Army personnel are being cut from 82,000 to 73,000 soldiers after 2021’s defence review. The new head of the armed forces said he had never known such a clear threat ‘as the brutal aggression of President Putin’. He likened the Ukraine war to the build up to World War Two.
The International Justice Mission (IJM) reminds us that the Ukraine conflict has displaced millions of women and children across Europe who are now running out of savings and resources, making them vulnerable to false work offers or accommodation from traffickers. The UN warns that Ukraine’s war is turning into a ‘human trafficking crises’. We need to cry out to God for women and children’s protection, that they would find safe housing and a stable income, to avoid accepting offers from traffickers. Please pray that they would know God's peace and comfort at this time of great difficulty. Pray for the expansion of IJM's anti-trafficking work in Europe. Ukraine’s refugee crisis means they urgently need to expand their anti-trafficking work into more European countries to reach and protect more vulnerable people. Pray for more local churches and European communities to accept and help refugees and may God mightily bless those volunteers already welcoming Ukrainians into their communities.