By Rick Lance
Executive director, Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions
You don’t have to be a news junkie to have been bombarded by the sad news coming out of Ukraine. Even a casual viewer realizes that this is a major event unfolding before our eyes.
Not since World War II has Europe and the rest of the world been so impacted by an invasion such as we are witnessing in Ukraine. Russia’s actions are reminiscent of the German invasion of nearby countries in the run-up to World War II. This is sobering news indeed.
Some things have really saddened us. The bombing of civilian residential areas and hospitals in an intentional way can qualify as war crimes. The death toll is rising higher and higher with no end in sight.
Historic cities are being left in a state of ruin which begs the questions: What will happen to these cities and other impacted areas? Will they be able to rebound, or will this war rage on in a seemingly endless fashion?
Some things have surprised us. The mere fact that Russia would invade a sovereign nation has surprised some people and others not so much.
The resilient resistance of the Ukrainian forces — many times outnumbered by the Russian military — has nonetheless fought gallantly. The Russian invasion did not turn out to be the blitzkrieg that was intended. This invasion has inflicted unexpected losses on the part of Russia.
The outstanding leadership of President Zelenskyy has been an admirable surprise for us. He is no stranger to the camera. He knows how to communicate. I will say again: Not since Winston Churchill have we witnessed such bravery in a leader of a country in crisis. His leadership has helped us all understand the plight of the Ukrainian people and the implications of this war for Europe, the U.S. and the rest of the world.
Some things are for certain. Our heart breaks for the people of Ukraine. We are overwhelmed with concern for their safety. The Ukrainian refugees fleeing across the borders of neighboring nations now are more than three million. This number will continue to rise as well, although escaping out of the war zones will be increasingly dangerous.
Another certainty is that the refugees need our help. Many people are responding to these needs. Your State Board of Missions and the Alabama Baptist family as a whole are numbered among them.
The Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions recently sent $100,000 from Disaster Relief funds to the International Mission Board. The IMB has boots on the ground there seeking to meet the needs of people.
Any personal or church contribution given through the State Board of Missions marked as “IMB Ukraine Relief” will also be sent to our International Mission Board for its ministry to refugees from Ukraine — and will be over and above the $100,000 gift mentioned above. We assure you all of these funds will be in the hands of trustworthy people seeking to give a cup of cold water in the name of Jesus.
For certain we need to pray for all involved in these acts of war. Not only do we need to pray for the leaders of Ukraine and the people in harm’s way, but we also need to pray that somehow, some way this war will end soon. Our prayers ought to be for a quick resolution of this war grounded on a basis of peace, not war.
We know God is on His throne. We realize that none of these events surprised Him. We also know that He can teach us valuable lessons from these horrible circumstances. Let us have ears to hear and eyes to see what our Lord is teaching us.
To give to the International Mission Board’s ministry to refugees from Ukraine, go online to alsbom.org/ukraine.