Monday, March 27, 2023

Connecting the Christian Community

Ukraine Christians Are On The Rise Amid War

A recent survey found that the number of Christians in Ukraine increased during the war. It’s been a year since Russian forces invaded Ukraine, but in the middle of the destruction, more Ukrainians cling to Jesus Christ as a source of hope and salvation.

According to the data from the Razkumov Center, which was published in the Religious Information Service for Ukraine (RISU), 74.1% identified themselves as Christians in 2022 compared to 67.8% in 2021. At the same time, the number of non-believers and convinced atheists decreased—from 13% to 12.2%.

People are open to us. They are in our churches. —Yaroslav “Slavik” Pyzh, Ukrainian Baptist pastor

“Under the influence of literally constant stress, public attitudes toward religion, expectations of the church, and assessments of its role in the life of society, the state, and the individual have changed. The nature and depth of religiosity, the need for communication with fellow believers and pastors have changed,” the release said.

In terms of territory, the percentage of Christians increased in the central region (from 63.5 to 75.9%) and in the east (from 59.2 to 63.2%) of the country. Data from the survey also found that the war had the biggest change among young Ukrainians. Believers between 18-24 grew from 48.2 to 60.6%, and among those aged 25-29 — from 56.1 to 65.1%.

Despite the war, Ukrainian Christians are holding on to their faith, reports The Gospel Coalition. Many of them believe that God is listening to their prayers and has not abandoned them. Many churches and seminaries are growing, as proven by RISU’s poll. Many churches are helping with relief efforts, with 74% of religious communities supporting displaced people since the beginning of the war.

“War is a time when you see the worst and best of people,” said Caleb Suko, an American missionary who has been in Ukraine for the past 20 years. “We have seen the best of what God does.”

Vasyl Novakovets, a seminary professor, shared his story of how through God’s grace, he and his family was able to escape to Romania. “In dark times, you move closer to God,” he said. “You really depend on him because you don’t know what will happen the next day or the next month. But God opened new opportunities, new ministries, new support.”

Ukrainian Baptist pastor and educator Yaroslav “Slavik” Pyzh told Baptist Press that the war made more people interested in the Gospel and churches more appealing. “People are open to us. They are in our churches. They are in our worship services,” he said. “They are eager to listen to the Gospel because the life they live has no hope, has no purpose, has no future.”

Pyzh continues to pray for a resolution, for God’s miracle to stop the assaults. “I think there’s always a time for everything, a time to throw rocks and a time to gather rocks. Now is time to pray for Ukraine. Then we will pray for Russia.”


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