While at Samford University in Birmingham yesterday (March 17), Elijah Brown, general secretary and CEO of the Baptist World Alliance, shared about Baptist work taking place in Ukraine.
Speaking with a group of ministry leaders from central Alabama, Brown provided personal insights from his recent visit as well as updates from Baptist leaders on the ground in Ukraine and surrounding countries. He’s headed back to the region soon to encourage and assist with refugee efforts.
“Things were ominous when I was there, with 130,000 troops on the border,” Brown recalled.
“In the first six days of this war, 600 (of the 2,100) Baptist churches provided basic food and humanitarian relief, helping 45,000 people who had been displaced by war, but they can’t do it alone,” he said. “We try to do what we can to support them.
“Our three goals at BWA are to share the gospel, to stand with the persecuted and to support Baptists around the globe.”
‘God’s word not chained’
The average church in Ukraine is serving 100 people per day at an average cost of $7 per person per day, Brown said, noting the rate of spending versus the needs indicates they have about three more weeks of funds.
BWA has sent about $2 million to the Baptist Union of Ukraine for the churches to use as they minister to the displaced and injured, he said, adding that Southern Baptists also are sharing funds with the Baptist Union to help supplement the work being done.
Brown also noted the displacement of women and children in Ukraine may end up being the largest in history and said some orphanages have placed warning signs on their doors alerting approaching soldiers that children are inside.
He noted the seven Baptist seminaries in Ukraine are now closed, but one seminary leader declared, “The Lord is with us. He is strong.”
“It’s too early to tell what the ultimate outcome will be,” Brown acknowledged. “But God’s people are busy helping one another and God’s word is not chained. … The Ukrainian Baptists continue to share Christ. They are prayerful and strategic.”
BWA works with churches in Russia, too, Brown said, noting the leader of the Baptist Union in Russia said, “I’m together with you in the gospel, more than our national identities, more than our political boundaries and borders … we are together in the gospel.”
The Russian leader was sympathetic and apologetic to the leader of the Baptist Union of Ukraine during a recent Web meeting, Brown added, and requested, “Pray for a gospel revolution in Russia.”
Share a prayer
Along with giving through your local church, association, the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions or national groups such as the International Mission Board or BWA, Brown asks Baptists to pray for the people of Ukraine. To write out prayers that will be shared with Baptist leaders on the ground in Ukraine, visit baptistworld.org/shareaprayer.
“It doesn’t matter if they can’t read English,” he said. “They’ll know that other Baptists are praying for them and their nation.”