02 March 2014
Week of prayer for Ukraine and Crimea 2-9 March
Christian leaders in Crimea have called on the Church to support the region in prayer as the situation following the ousting of President Yanukovych escalates.
A week after the former president fled the capital where around a hundred protesters had been killed Russia voted in favour of military action in Ukrainian Crimea. Russian troops are reported to have occupied the airport in Sevastopol, with fears the invasion could spread. Crimea, an autonomous region, is largely Russian-speaking and is home to a major Russian navy base
The Crimean parliament has also proposed a referendum on 25 May to secede from the Ukraine and many still consider the ousted president their leader.
Baptist Pastor Olexander Turchynov was appointed interim president last week ahead of full elections in May. Former prime minister and leading figure in the 2004 orange revolution Yulia Tymoshenko is expected to stand alongside boxing champion Vitali Klitschko who has already declared that he will.
The ousting of President Yanukovych was widely seen as a shift away from friendship with Russia and towards closer relationships with the European Union. Mr Yanukovych had pulled out of negotiations with European Union opting instead for financial assistance from Russia. The violence and eventual revolution, was however, as much about opposition to the internal corruption of the regime as about international relations.
As missionaries in Crimea are reported to be leaving, Christian leaders are calling for a week of prayer from 2-9 March. Dr Sas Conradie, formerly a missionary to Crimea and coordinating an initiative for the World Evangelical Alliance, has joined with Dr Anatole Glukhovskyy from the Lausanne Movement and Kostya Bakanov, a local Christian leader, to provide a briefing on the situation and suggest points for prayer.
One missionary commented to the BBC: “We are American citizens and have been living in Simferopol, Ukraine for 18 years. Since Wednesday, we have watched with broken hearts the events that seem to grow steadily worse. It is sad to see the invasion of foreign troops into the sovereign nation of Ukraine. I hope the world wakes up and not let this become another Georgia' (which Russia invaded in 2008).”
Ukrainian evangelical leader, Dr Gregor Komendant, previously called on all Christians for prayer and support: "The situation in Ukraine is extremely tense. Peace is fragile and the Church can and should play a reconciling role on behalf of all Christians of Ukraine. I am calling on the global Christian community for prayer and support at this critical time for our nation."
Fred Drummond, director of prayer at the Evangelical Alliance, has written a prayer for use during this week:
Gracious God, we thank you that you are a God of compassion and mercy.
We pray for the people of the Ukraine. For those weighed down by fear and confusion we pray for peace and clarity.
For those lost in grief and sorrow bring the warmth of your care and the strength of your presence.
We pray that you may raise up peacemakers who have a positive vision of unity and hope.
We ask that you may lift the voices of understanding and reconciliation that they may be heard. May bonds of love overcome suspicion.
O God have mercy.
In Jesus name,