The country now being invaded by Russia may be halfway around the world and have a different culture, and its citizens may speak a different language – but it's also known as one of the most gospel-friendly country in all of Europe. According to surveys, more than 70% of the population adheres to Christianity.
Ivan Bespalov is pastor of Holy Trinity Presbyterian Church in Kyiv. He spoke with American Family News about living conditions there right now.
"It seems like it's a nightmare [and] people want to wake up," he shares. "But on the fifth day you sort of get used to it, and you understand that now it is your life and you have to survive in these kinds of circumstances."
The pastor says in the midst of the carnage, the war is driving people to their knees.
"It's hard to imagine such a hunger for the Word of God, for spiritual support during the peaceful life – but now people turn their eyes to the Lord a significant part of the day," he says.
And Bespalov says Ukrainian Christians are aware of and grateful for the prayers of the American Church – and he urges prayers, of course, for peace and safety for the Ukrainian people and soldiers, but also the Russian invaders.
"Also pray for Russian soldiers, that they would understand that they are misled [and] deceived – and for the Russian administration to repent and admit their wicked plans," says the pastor.
War in Ukraine is on everyone's mind
Indeed, most American churches on Sunday spent time praying for Ukraine and an end to the war in Eastern Europe. Those in attendance may have heard something like what was spoken at First Baptist-Dallas, where lay-leader Dr. Ron Harris brought it up first thing, during the welcome:
Harris: "Many of you are praying for God's mercy on Ukraine. A lot of us are wearing some blue and yellow this morning to show our love and our solidarity with folks who are standing so strong."
And most churches used their morning prayer to ask God to intercede – as First Baptist executive pastor Ben Lovvorn did:
Lovvorn: "And so, this morning, Lord, we seek your face on behalf of the people of Ukraine, and we ask that you would intervene in your power and might, that you would contend against those who rebel against righteousness, that you would drive back those who fight against you – drive them back in despair and dismay, Lord."
Senior pastor Dr. Robert Jeffress says there's no need to be neutral in the discussion. "Most Christians are seeing this for what it is: pure, unadulterated evil," he tells AFN. "But the good news is Vladimir Putin's evil is no match for God's sovereignty."
And he argues that an imprecatory prayer – like those uttered by David in the Old Testament – is not out of order.
"We need to pray for God's grace on the Ukrainians, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ," says Jeffress, "and I think it's alright to pray for God's wrath and judgment against the Russian aggressors. It's okay to pray for a few more of those planes to fall out of the sky like they've been doing."