Baptist World Alliance, BWA News Release

Ukraine needs Christ, says Baptist leader

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Ukraine needs Christ, says Baptist leader
BWA General Secretary Neville Callam made an official visit to Oleksandr Turchynov in March 2009 when he was deputy prime minister of Ukraine. Turchynov is the new interim president of the country following the ouster of former President Viktor Yanukovych

Pavel Unguryan, director of the International Mission Department for Ukrainian Baptists has declared, “Ukraine needs Christ,”  if healing and reconciliation is to take place.

The country has experienced widespread violent protests since last November after former President Viktor Yanukovych, who has since gone into hiding, pulled out of signing a free trade deal with the European Union in favor of closer economic ties with Russia, a move that led to violent uprisings against the government resulting in the loss of life, injuries, arrests and the destruction of property

According to Unguryan, Ukrainian churches and Christians offered a pastoral response to the crisis. “During all these days of protests and confrontations the Christian community in Ukraine has been the light and the salt for both parties.”

“For the past three months Ukraine was absorbed by the cloud of anti-government protests and demonstrations that resulted in the worst violence since it gained Independence in 1991,” said Unguryan, who was a Member of Parliament in Ukraine from 2008-2012.

He said Christian doctors, nurses, cooks, students and other Christian groups “have been helping whenever there was a need.” Unguryan claimed that the national crisis led “churches and even denominations to get united in prayer and fasting for peace and God’s intervention. People started crying out to God and even the TV media spoke about the role of the church and quoted Scriptures.”

Christians, including Baptists, provided food and medical help, handed out Christian literature and offered opportunities for prayer during the protests.

Unguryan suggested that much work is left to be done to bring about national reconciliation. “Unfortunately, many people have much anger and hatred for opponents. People are disappointed in all politicians and do not want to forgive anyone. Many are determined for revenge, to burn and bring about injuries.”

He believes the church can bring healing. “We need to face this challenge with Christ. What Ukraine needs is not just a change of people in authority but a change of the system and the relationship of the authorities to ordinary citizens. Ukraine needs love, mercy and forgiveness. Ukraine needs Christ!”

Yanukovych was replaced by Oleksandr Turchynov, a Baptist minister in Ukraine, as interim president of the Eastern European country on February 23. Turchynov previously served as deputy prime minister of Ukraine from 2007-2010 and was earlier elected speaker of parliament before being appointed interim president.

Ukraine is a former Soviet republic that regained its independence in 1991, after the breakup of the Soviet Union. It has one of the largest Baptist bodies in Europe. The All-Ukrainian Union of Associations of Evangelical Christians-Baptists, a member organization of the BWA, has more than 121,000 members in more than 2,300 churches.

The Baptist World Alliance, founded in 1905, is a fellowship of 253 conventions and unions in 130 countries and territories comprising 51 million baptized believers in 176,000 churches. For more than 100 years, the Baptist World Alliance has networked the Baptist family to impact the world for Christ with a commitment to strengthen worship, fellowship and unity; lead in mission and evangelism; respond to people in need through aid, relief, and community development; defend religious freedom, human rights, and justice; and advance theological reflection and leadership development.