In the early morning hours of Thursday, Feb. 24, the Russian military invaded Ukraine under the auspices of a “special military operation.”
Numerous explosions have been reported throughout the country, from the capital of Kyiv to the southern port city of Odessa. There have already been dozens of reported deaths and injuries to both military personnel and civilians, with the death toll expected to rise. Many people are now fleeing into neighboring countries like Poland, Slovakia and Hungary, where they will be met with humanitarian assistance.
Those who have been unable to flee the cities are seeking shelter in the subway systems, while still desperately trying to find a way out.
A mother driving out of the Kyiv told The New York Times, “We have three kids. Personally, I am afraid to be in a place occupied by Russians. I thought—if I move west, this won’t affect me today or tomorrow. I have three sons. … I fear for my kids.”
In response to the invasion, one local Ukranian church pastor is calling the world to prayer.
Writing for The Gospel Coalition, Kyiv pastor and professor Vasyl Ostryi said, “We have decided to stay, both as a family and as a church. When this is over, the citizens of Kyiv will remember how Christians have responded in their time of need.
“And while the church may not fight like the nation, we still believe we have a role to play in this struggle. We will shelter the weak, serve the suffering, and mend the broken. And as we do, we offer the unshakable hope of Christ and His Gospel. While we may feel helpless in the face of such a crisis, we can pray like Esther. Ukraine is not God’s covenant people, but like Israel, our hope is that the Lord will remove the danger as He did for His ancient people. And as we stay, we pray the church in Ukraine will faithfully trust the Lord and serve our neighbors.”
In a Facebook post, Franklin Graham called Christians to prayer. “There is so much fear and uncertainty. Many Ukrainians are fleeing their homes toward the west. These families need our prayers.”
The president also took to Twitter to recount a conversation he had with President Zelenskyy of Ukraine: “I condemned this unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces [and] briefed him on the steps we are taking to rally international condemnation. … We will continue to provide support and assistance to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.”
This is the largest land conflict on the European continent since the end of World War II in May 1945.
In the last 100 years, Ukraine has suffered greatly at the hands of other nations. The Soviet Union caused a famine that killed roughly 3.9 million people from 1932-1933, a genocide known as the Holodomor. The Nazi invasion in 1941 killed several million more people, including a reported 33,771 Ukraine Jews by the Nazi death squad in the Babi Yar ravine.
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has ministered with thousands of churches in both countries over the years and calls on all Christians around the world for intercessory prayer for peace in the region and especially for fellow-Christians in the region.
Above: Russian military forces advance on Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine.
Photo: Kyodo via AP Images