Langham has a strong network of Scholars, writers and pastors in Ukraine. We’re urging supporters to pray earnestly for our family there who have remained or have escaped the country.
Mark Meynell, a Langham Preaching Director, sat in for Chris Wright in a special episode of ‘On Mission’, a podcast produced by Langham US.
He spoke to a Ukrainian church leader – who is still in the country – about the conditions currently facing Christians. We’re withholding the name of this leader and the institution he’s involved in for his safety. The conversation was recorded on Tuesday 8 March. Read snippets below.
What conditions are you in at the moment, on day 13 of the invasion?
The Russian occupation forces are just outside the city, we experience heavy shelling and bombing every day and every night. The last three nights we had to leave the seminary campus. The Ukrainian army warned us that it is not safe anymore to stay at the campus. The cities that were heavily bombed are basically ruined, that is where my apartment isand I think that it is ruined too. So I basically have no place to go back to.
Do you have water?
Yes. At the moment we have electricity, water, food, internet connection. We were anxious that we might be cut off but at the moment we are connected to the world. We can use social media to communicate the situation. Which is what I do! Every morning I write a small post just to put down the situation, my experience of it and things like that.
Tell us about what led you to stay in Ukraine.
The first reason is we had to evacuate the seminary students and the staff, which we did. The last portion of 53 people that we managed to evacuate, I think five or six days ago was miraculously done. We had to change our plan every half hour because the situation was changing rapidly in the city. We had to ensure that the people put on the bus would be transported through a safe corridor. Thank God we did it.
We decided that myself and the president along with those students who volunteered, would stay on campus in order to protect the property, the library and other things. We also wanted to help the most vulnerable by distributing food to elderly people, to the orphans, we would help assist the military with medicines (not weapons). That’s what we do every day. There is a curfew from 8pm till 7am the next morning. Other Christians help with providing food and medicines, and we drive around in our van and give things out to people we see who are standing outside empty shops.
Do you think that this is binding Ukrainians together in the midst of the horror?
Oh yes. I sensed it in 2014, and now there’s just unbelievable consolidation of the Ukrainian people and when I see how everyone wants to contribute something to this situation, I can’t imagine how we will be overcome. With that spirit, with that perseverance, everyone will stand till the end, whatever it will be.
We must pray for that perseverance. Are there particular things you are praying for each day?
When we are evacuating invalids or elderly people, I pray that God will protect us, that He would give us wisdom and courage to evacuate people in the best possible way.
My constant prayer is that this madness would stop somehow. I don’t know how. When you see how your city is changing every day, and there are these apocalyptic scenes, your heart breaks.
Could you guide us in how we can practically support Ukraine at this time, when we are so far away?
We would like that the freedom and values that we stand for, these are the values we learn from liberal democracies. We would like your countries to be more sacrificial and active. How is it possible for one mad dictator to do this, is there no way to stop him? Something is not right with this world. Through public pressure on your governments, can they be forced to be more resolute in the way this horrible war can end? We will rebuild our countries but there are hundreds and thousands of lives we can’t bring back.
If there is public pressure on western governments, they will consider it. Russia ignores public pressure, but the western world lives and works differently. There must be a way to stop this madness.
Mark Meynell: The pressure for the UK government to accept more refugees is building all the time. So that will definitely have to change. At the moment it’s not ideal.
Thank you so much for talking to me today, and thank you especially for the work you are doing with vulnerable people. We will be praying for you.