Thousands attend first National Day of Prayer in war-torn Ukraine

Ukrainian Christians praying at the first-ever National Day of Prayer for Ukraine.

Originally published in Assist News Services

For the first time in the history of Ukraine, all of the churches of the country recently came together for a National Day of Prayer for their war-torn nation and for peace.

The three-hour event, that took place on Saturday, June 18, 2016, was attended by thousands of people and church leaders at the National Sports Palace in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, and broadcast “live” by 3 national TV channels.

Supported by Ukraine’s Bible Society, Greek Catholics, the Baptist Union, two Pentecostal Unions, Charismatic and Independent Unions, and the Senior Rabbi of the Messianic Congregation in Ukraine, this was the first time that all these unions have come together in unity to call on God to restore their broken and divided nation.

Church representatives also included those from the Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox churches.

An especially enthusiastic welcome was given to church leaders from East Ukraine, and also the leader of the nation’s Messianic Jewish Community. It was a far cry from a media image of politicians fighting in Parliament, Russian tanks, corruption, economic stagnation and a civil airliner being shot out of the sky!

At the prayer event, they joined to sing hymns to Jesus Christ, and also recited a bold declaration, asking God to unite their nation, where corrupt leaders failed. Church people lined up to pray, asking God to stop the fighting, remove the tanks and bring peace.

Praying to rebuild Ukraine
Each prayed in their own tradition, before uniting behind their Bible Society leader, praying for a miracle to rebuild Ukraine upon the Bible, which they all have in common.

It shows, when all else fails, desperate people turn to God.

The event was called for by British evangelist, David Hathaway, who is little publicised in the UK, but almost a household name in Ukraine.

He was known in this area of Europe, after he called for prayer conferences in East and West Germany in 1988 and 1989, which were attended by thousands of people, who prayed for the Berlin Wall to come down.

Around this time, critics suggested the Rev Hathaway might be “mad,” until, shortly afterwards, the whole of the Iron Curtain came down shortly. Then, people stopped such criticism.

Praying for Russia and Vladimir Putin
Ukraine’s first-ever National Prayer conference concluded, not with prayers for Ukraine, but for Russia and Vladimir Putin, the current president of the Russian Federation.

According to the website, “After the Russian annexing of Crimea in March 2014, war broke out in eastern Ukraine the following month, April 2014, when Russian-backed separatists seized control of a number of towns and declared independence. That summer the Ukrainian army recaptured the rebel stronghold of Slavyansk and moved to encircle Donetsk, the defacto separatist capital. Following two decisive Russian military interventions which effectively reversed Ukrainian gains, a peace agreement was signed in Minsk in February 2015. The effect of this agreement has been to slow, rather than end the war; the killings continue to this day.”

In view of that, just think of it. Thousands of Ukrainians, praying for Russia and President Putin is extraordinary! The Ukraine problem is that their history, culture and language, are closer to Russia than any other country, on earth.

For Russia, their foundation and precious Orthodox Church come from the “Rus” — in what is now Ukraine, and their leaders and ancestors are buried there. For Russia, Ukraine is in the blood. For Ukraine, Russia is in the blood. Even Mr Putin’s first name – Vladimir — comes from Ukraine, 1 000 years ago.

I believe that this prayer gathering will be a turning point for both countries, and the two Presidents of each, will be mindful of this.

As the European Union (EU) tries social engineering and expansion that it really can’t afford to pay for, in Ukraine, so the currency keeps falling. The driving force is economic. War brings poverty. Both need reconciliation and restoring their mutual economies, especially as Russia argues with Turkey.

For Ukraine and Russia, forgiving and reconciliation will be a miracle. Maybe, only God and the people’s prayers can deliver that.

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