Leading the Church in Response to Ukraine
The situation in Ukraine continues to deteriorate and church leaders are increasingly asking the question: ‘what can we do?’
It’s a pretty overwhelming set of circumstances and those we serve in our churches will be responding in different ways. It’s another example of where knowing our flock will shape how we lead our churches in response.
But here are four areas where we should all be leading right now.
Take a lead in praying
The chief weapons of the church are spiritual (2 Corinthians 10.4). Wise leaders will be leading their churches in a prayerful response.
It’s not always easy to know what to pray for exactly, and we can quickly get caught up in geopolitical themes. My personal view is that the scriptures primarily encourage us to support beleaguered brothers and sisters and pray for the church, whilst also recognising the impact on wider communities.
That is certainly true in monetary terms (more of which in a moment). The same truth applies to prayer. Seen this way, we can and should easily identify topics to pray for: a quick scan of the news sites will be a help but trusted organisations will also be a great help in directing our prayers.
If you have church contacts in the region (and a surprising number of churches do), why not make these your focus? At home church here, we’ve tried to do this with both adults and children (though some pastoral sensitivity is required when leading children in prayer on this topic).
Remember that our prayers should not be limited to Ukraine itself: believers are having a hard time in Russia, Crimea, and Belarus. Moreover, those responding in places like Moldova, Poland, and Romania also need our prayerful intervention.
Take a lead in giving
There is, of course, a clear mandate, in supporting those who are not able to support themselves, particularly (though not only) believers. It’s worth reading 2 Corinthians 8-9 again if you’re unsure! A wise and godly leader will be responding to this crisis by leading the church in generosity.
Again, if you have them, the best way to do this is through existing contacts. If you do not, then other places to go are the Slavic Gospel Association (SGA) or the European Mission Fellowship (EMF). Both will also be able to provide prayer help. The funding page for EMF has an interview with Vitalii Mariash, a former London Seminary student and member at East London Tabernacle.
You may also want to support secular organisations with whom you might have links. Do bear in mind that any money given through the Disasters Emergency Committee will not necessarily go to Christian causes, even when given to Christian charities.
Take a lead in hosting
As of today (14 March) there’s a scheme in place for individuals, communities, churches, and other organisations to host Ukrainian refugees from the conflict. Showing this kind of hospitality to strangers is another key Bible theme but needs to be undertaken thoughtfully and carefully.
Wise and godly leaders will be helping their churches think this issue through and taking the lead, when appropriate, in showing hospitality.
We would commend the work of the Sanctuary Foundation in thinking this issue through, led by Krish Kandiah.
Take a lead in teaching
Finally, don’t miss the importance of grasping this teachable moment.
Many people are unsettled, anxious, unsure. This is perhaps the first time some of the “wars and rumours of wars” (Matthew 24:6) have come closer to home. There will be souls to still and questions to answer - a wise and godly leader will be taking the lead in helping churches think through what is going on.
For example, last Sunday we reflected with the children and the adults on the comfort and help of God’s sovereignty and the rule of Christ.
There is a particular point to make here: our western peace has been shattered and shown be to illusory. For many believers, the “best of meats and the finest of wines” (Isaiah 25.6) is nothing more than a trip to Waitrose, rather than a vision of the new creation.
There is a Bible prayer we need to teach our people to pray with conviction and expectation: “Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22.20).