(UPDATED) Sunday sermons from Baptists and Pentecostals focus on peacemaking but also aftermath of any Russian invasion, as Putin on Monday recognizes independence of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Facing imminent war, Ukrainian evangelicals preached peace the day before Russian President Vladimir Putin dramatically escalated tensions by recognizing the independence of two separatist regions on Monday evening.
“Go closer to meet those who are against you or fighting you,” Yuriy Kulakevych, foreign affairs director of the Ukrainian Pentecostal Church, told his congregation on Sunday, February 20, at God’s Peace Pentecostal Church in the capital, Kyiv.
“We are not only to enjoy peace ourselves, but to share it.”
Preaching on the Sermon on the Mount’s injunction toward peacemaking, Kulakevych continued his laser-sharp focus on the possible Russian invasion. Five weeks ago, as the separatist conflict in the eastern Donbas region began to escalate, he surveyed the Bible for its teaching on “wars and rumors of war.”
He followed that with an application of “Do not let your hearts be troubled” and, on the next Sunday, a treatise on worry. Last week, he tried shifting to include more mundane examples in a sermon on Jesus calming the storm, such as pandemic, career, and relationship difficulties. But the Russian threat did not dissipate.
“Protect yourself and your family by all possible means,” Kulakevych told the church. “And serve as a mentor for people in a bad state.”
The latter spirit is also animating Ukraine’s Baptists.
“Pastors in the gray area are not leaving the area,” said Igor Bandura, senior vice president of the Baptist Union of Ukraine, describing the frontline. “Christians are determined to take an active part in the needs of the people around them.”
They have already, planting 25 churches in the past five …