A woman prays amid political clashes earlier this year in Kiev, Ukraine. (By Mstyslav Chernov/Creative Commons)
Production is underway on a radio program aimed at helping as Ukrainian Christians and their countrymen grapple with anxiety and division as battles flare and a new president takes office.
Reconciliation for Ukraine is being produced by the national partner of TWR (also known as Trans World Radio) and is slated to debut in July. The first subject to be addressed is “How Do We React to Pain?” and further planned topics will be adjusted as necessary to keep up with national developments.
“At this point, we do not know what will happen in our country,” said the director of TWR Ukraine. “We have started to record discussions involving two or four people on different issues of reconciliation, and then we will see how it develops as we go deeper into the project.”
Petro Poroshenko, sometimes called the Chocolate King for his huge candy business, won an election on May 25, 2014, to succeed acting president Oleksandr Turchynov, who began his brief stint after a popular uprising in February forced out a pro-Russian incumbent. Since then, people in the Crimean Peninsula voted to break with Ukraine and join next-door neighbor Russia, and national troops in eastern Ukraine have fought with pro-Russian separatists.
Some pastors who faced danger in the eastern part of the country have relocated to the central part, according to the TWR Ukraine director, whose name is withheld for security reasons.
“We have quite contrasting churches in the country, and therefore the reaction to the crisis is different,” he said. “Some are critical to the government’s politics, and others stand behind it. … What unites us, however, is prayer.”
Despite the ongoing conflict between the Ukrainian-speaking and Russian-speaking populations in the country at large, those tensions haven’t been observed among the producers of the radio programs for the respective languages, the director said.
In the week or so following the presidential election, deadly battles have flared at the airport in Donetsk and a border-guard base in Luhansk, which are separatist strongholds in eastern Ukraine. On the Friday before the election, the Religious Information News Service of Ukraine reported that attackers identified as pro-Russian separatists snatched equipment and tore down an interfaith prayer tent, threatening to shoot believers if they returned to pray.
TWR’s gospel radio broadcasts are being blocked in the east, the director of the Ukrainian partner said, but they continue to be heard across most of the rest of the country. TWR Ukraine’s office in a major eastern city continues to operate and record programs. For now, communication has been cut off with Crimean followers of TWR Ukraine’s programming.
Although recent letters from listeners to TWR Ukraine have tended not to dwell on the national crisis, some responses have noted that the broadcast messages of biblical truth and eternal peace are having an impact.
“I am listening to you, and tears cover my eyes,” one listener wrote. “What a timely program! Why do we trust in the [human authorities], and why do we not cry to God who is above us all?! Please, send me the text of the program ‘How to Love God.’”
Another wrote, “Today we pray for Ukraine. God is upholding us, comforting us, and the programs of TWR help us a lot during this time. May God bless you and your ministry.”
The Ukraine director called on believers everywhere to keep his troubled country in their prayers:
- Pray for wisdom to understand what God wants to tell our country, Ukraine, through the recent events.
- Pray for the evangelical churches in the Donetsk and Lugansk provinces. It is definitely not easy for them.
- Pray for the Lord’s mercy to cover Ukraine.
Discover more about the Reconciliation for Ukraine project at www.twr.org/Ukraine.