By Bob Allen
The Baptist World Alliance and European Baptist Federation have called on Baptists worldwide to pray for Christians seeking to bear a faithful witness in Ukraine.
On May 2 clashes between pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian protestors killed at least 36 people in a political crisis being described as on the brink of civil war.
Pavel Unguryan, director of the international mission department for Ukrainian Baptists, told BWA officials the city of Odessa “is on fire” and that the “events of the last days have been really terrifying.”
“The Christian community of Odessa is mourning,” Unguryan said.
“The churches, cathedral and groups have united in a prayer for peace and stability. The churches are calling people to forgive and love like Jesus Christ,” said Unguryan, who served in the country’s parliament 2008-2012.
Ukraine, site of protests since former President Viktor Yanukovych rejected a deal for closer integration with the European Union last November, instead drawing the country closer to Russia, has one of the largest Baptist communities in Europe.
The All-Ukrainian Union of Associations of Evangelical Christians-Baptists, a member organization of the BWA, has more than 121,000 members in more than 2,300 churches.
The country’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, is a Baptist, even though the vast majority of citizens are either Orthodox on non-religious.