War in Ukraine - Update
April 18th 2022
Last week, the world was introduced to unspeakable horrors in the Ukrainian town of Bucha after the Russian occupiers retreated from the Kyiv region.
HART's reaction to this tragedy was to become one of the first NGOs to truck in food for this community. HART's director Kostya - also heard a plea from the mayor for ambulances. Within days, he purchased two ambulances (pictured above) in Poland and delivered them to Bucha.Yesterday we received an official letter of thanks from the mayor:
"From myself personally and from all the people of Bucha region of Kyiv oblast I want to thank You sincerely for the generous help you provided for our community. Your help is priceless support during these hard times.
Good deeds – are like a lighthouse that shines for those who need help. I am sure your example shows others what they need to do in these hard times of the war. You give not just material help, but you provide hope and faith in our VICTORY.
May your kindness and generosity come back to you many times over. I wish you all the blessings, health, prosperity, and more warmth in your life.
I am hoping for a future fruitful partnership and your support of our community. Sincerely grateful to you for your help. Slava Ukraine.
With respect and gratitude, Mayor/Head of the council, Volodymyr Dubas"
I know from conversations with many of you that it's hard not to feel "helpless" watching this tragedy in Ukraine play out from the comfort of North America. Many of you genuinely want to do something.
Please understand this - when you give to HART you are truly co-laboring with us. We cannot accomplish anything without YOUR prayers and support! Your generosity allowed us to bring food and medical support to this hurting community and demonstrate God's love for them.
First Aid Kits
In the past month, one of the most common requests we are getting from our contacts in the military medical world is for life-saving First Aid Kits. These kits are used by the military, civilians, and chaplains. We are ordering and shipping hundreds of these each week. Our team packages these kits in Warsaw, Poland and we have them shipped to wherever they are needed most. The cost for one First Aid Kit is $50. Please consider supporting this project. THESE KITS WILL SAVE LIVES!
The church divided
Today, as Christians, we should be holding ourselves to a higher standard regarding what we believe. We have a moral obligation to "believe responsibly." In other words, we must base our beliefs on sufficient evidence that we have diligently investigated.
One of the overriding characteristics of Putin's Russia is the plethora of disinformation that is fed to Russian citizens day in and day out. This has even caused breaches between Christians in Russia and Ukraine.
To give you a sense of how serious this problem is, read the below letter, written by Evangelical leaders in Ukraine and addressed to their 'brothers and sisters in Russia. It is a remarkably honest and raw letter, and it is evident that far too many Russian Christians are not "believing responsibly."
"As the Russia-Ukraine war began with the full-scale invasion on February 24, 2022, we, representatives of Ukrainian evangelical theological educational institutions, have witnessed massive war crimes, including numerous acts of violence, irrational cruelty, and inhuman treatment of civilians, destruction of cities, executions of peaceful civilians, rapes, pillaging, and plundering.
We express Christian solidarity with the victims of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Following the example of Christ, who in the Incarnation assumed the fullness of human existence, we identify with the victims of aggression and refuse to stand silently aside, pretending that nothing is happening.
We grieve together with those, who lost their family members in Irpin, Bucha, Hostomel, Mariupol, Kharkiv, Izium, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kramatorsk, and other cities and numerous towns of Ukraine.
We weep with the victims of violence and inhuman treatment by the Russian troops and, together with them, demand justice to be served in earthly courts even now, prior to the Judgment sentenced by the Righteous Judge.
We pray for the millions of internally displaced people and refugees, for families that are torn apart, for families of fallen soldiers, and for people that lost their homes and now cannot imagine what their future will hold. As members of Christian communities, we will do everything we can to alleviate your suffering. We stand with you!
We condemn the war crimes committed by the Russian occupation forces in Ukraine. We condemn the war waged by the Russian Federation as an unprovoked, insidious, and invasive act of aggression against sovereign Ukraine and its people.
The aggression was preceded by many years of dehumanization of Ukrainians in the public opinion of Russian citizens, incitement to hatred towards both Ukraine and its citizens, depicting them as a dangerous enemy, denying the right of Ukrainians to choose the direction of their national and civilizational development.
The propaganda campaign became the basis for starting an aggressive war. Calls for "denazification" and "demilitarization" are just a smokescreen for the real motives of the Russian leadership: Russia’s absorption of Ukraine as a numb vassal state and the dissolution of Ukrainian identity in the "Russian world".
We condemn Russia's methods of waging war: refusing to provide humanitarian corridors to civilians, extrajudicial killings and killing of non-combatants, destruction of civilian infrastructure, the use of civilians as human shields, and the use of indiscriminate weapons.
We strongly condemn the silence, detachment, and open support of the war with Ukraine exhibited by the Russian Christians. We are deeply saddened by the reaction of Russian evangelical believers to the war waged by Russia against Ukraine.
A number of leaders of church unions, pastors, and community members remain silent. At best, they speak cautiously of prayerful support and help to refugees, flat-out refusing to give a biblical and moral assessment of the war and Russian army war crimes.
We are not looking for theological and historical reasons for the loss of prophetic vision by Russian Christianity, the loss of ability to make a sound moral judgment and express solidarity with Ukrainian Christians who became victims of the war.
Whatever these reasons may be, we want to remind you that the invisible Body of Christ must manifest itself in a visible way: “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26 NRSV). The suffering of brothers and sisters in Christ requires a public identification with them.
We call on Russian Christians to repent of their support for the leadership of the Russian Federation. We strongly condemn those church "leaders" and church communities or associations of churches that openly support the aggressive actions of the top leadership of the Russian Federation.
Consciously or not, they recognized Caesar as their "lord" and renounced the early Christian confession that "Jesus is the Lord." In the act of apostasy, they traded the compassionate unity with the crucified Body of Christ for personal security and proximity to the political elite of the state.
We call on them to repent of their explicit or disguised support for Russia's misanthropic imperial policy, the ideology of the "Russian world" and aggressive war against Ukraine.
We urge them to identify with the victims of aggression. We also urge them to seek the power of the Holy Spirit to take practical steps that would impact public opinion in Russia about the war against Ukraine and the country's top leadership. “Bear fruit worthy of repentance.” (Matthew 3:8 NRSV)
We call on international partners not to remain indifferent to Russia's aggression against Ukraine. We are deeply disappointed that some international partners, organizations, and associations of churches describe the war with neutral terms such as "crisis", "conflict", "situation", and "violence". And as such, they avoid naming the aggressor and do not give a biblical and moral assessment of the facts of aggression.
We urge them to give an objective assessment of the invasive war and the Russian Federation army’s war crimes, listening not only to the mouthpieces of Russian propaganda and their repeaters in a religious environment but also to the testimonies of Ukrainian Christians who experience the true goals and means of this war.
We call for solidarity with the millions of Ukrainian refugees, the thousands of civilians killed and tortured, and those in mortal danger under the Russian occupation or on the action lines of war.
At the same time, we express our deep and sincere gratitude to those churches, missions, and humanitarian organizations that are doing their utmost to alleviate the suffering of Ukrainians, those who have become refugees in neighboring countries, and those who are still in Ukraine, bearing the burden of the war. “Whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.” (Mark 9:41 NRSV)
Authors of the appeal:
- Oleksandr Heychenko, President of Odesa Theological Seminary (Ukraine)
- Roman Soloviy, Director of Eastern European Institute of Theology (Ukraine)
- Taras Diatlyk, Regional Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia in Overseas Council-United World Mission, Vice-Rector for Development and International Cooperation of Eastern European Institute of Theology (Ukraine)
- Olha Diatlyk, Associate Regional Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Overseas Council-United World Mission (Ukraine)
- Ivan Rusyn, President of Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary (Ukraine)
- Valentyn Syniy, President of Tavriyskyi Christian Institute (Ukraine)
- Ksenia Trofymchuk, Project and program manager of Eastern European Institute of Theology (Ukraine)"
Lullaby of Ukraine
This video below is making the rounds in Ukraine and we thought we'd share it with you. It evokes images of children from all over the country who have survived and are still experiencing basement bombings, waking up to the sounds of explosions, and saying goodbye to their parents at train stations.
But the ultimate meaning of the song is that even in the most difficult moments, Ukrainians will not lose hope about seeing a peaceful sky again and the faith they have in their victory.
"We will definitely win - there is no doubt. Glory to Ukraine!"
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