"Wait! What is all this in the news about Ukraine?"
Questions about an eastern European country began resounding earlier this week and after yesterday's update more and more people are stopping to see what the talk is all about.
In the era of streaming and on-demand television many do not find out about current world events when the news "interrupts this program" any longer. Thus, global stories sometimes trickle out to various groups in different ways than before and once something big happens, it trends throughout the media and social media. Suddenly, all the other "big" stories disappear for a moment at least.
David Leonhardt of The New York Times states this is "the most significant European war in almost 80 years." 1 I do not think this is an overstatement. As of late last night (EST in the United States) reports of bombings in Ukraine from Russian military were being shared. Now, as the western hemisphere awakens we are notified that Russian planes and missile launchers have attacked Ukrainian cities and airports. According to the map below from The New York Times, the bombings have not been limited to border areas of the nation.
Dr. Albert Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has been speaking of the coming Russian aggression over the past week or so in his daily The Briefing podcasts. Dr. Mohler is well-versed in the history of Russia and especially the post-WW2 history of the region. He stated this on Monday, February 21, 2022:
This is likely to be a very big, very historic week because there are certain fissures on the world surface that are going to break loose. And by that, I mean, politics, war, geopolitics. We're looking at huge headlines rushing at us. Something is going to happen in Ukraine. Something is going to happen and Russia is going to be the instigator, regardless of what Russia claims. We are looking at a continual effort by Russia to destabilize the entire Western order and by now, we really do know what we are facing. 2
Dr. Mohler is no prophet, but he was spot-on in this analysis. Something big has happened this week and just as predicted, Russia is the instigator.
Why is Russia so fixated on Ukraine? This is a good question and goes back further than even the creation of the USSR. Even as far back as the empires of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great, Ukraine has been considered part of the "sphere of influence" of Russia. The Rus' people, an early medieval group who lived in what is now Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and other eastern European areas are connected by heritage, ancestry, and share culture, history, and etymology.
In Russian President Vladimir Putin's recent address to the world essentially, he stated "I would like to emphasize once again that Ukraine is not just a neighboring country for us, it is an integral part of our own history, culture, and spiritual. It is our friends, our relatives, not only colleagues, friends, and former work colleagues." As he spoke, he hearkened back to hundreds of years of history, but truly was longing for the days of the Soviet regime to return. He has positioned himself through his statements as the "liberator" of the Ukrainian "occupation" of their own land. But, as he states "Ukraine was simply invented by Russia." Therefore, the independence of the nation is something he does not recognize. As the world watches, a tyranny is taking place and believe me, it matters.
With Ukraine being invaded as I type this, unless something unforeseen occurs, Russia will own the land once more. This will put Russian territory on the border of Poland and that matters as well for Poland is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO.) The NATO charter states affirms an agreement of collective defense that basically states if one NATO nation is invaded or threatened all are. Thus, the military of NATO nations must come to the defense of the one being attacked.
What About Taiwan?
What would Taiwan have to do with Ukraine?
As Pastor Bob Roberts Jr. tweeted yesterday...
Russia invading Ukraine is far more serious than people realize - left unchallenged other past Soviet states are at serious risk - Putin’s ties with Xi of China puts Taiwan at risk along with other nations in the south China Sea - new world order will come if not stopped— Bob Roberts Jr. ن (@bobrobertsjr) February 24, 2022
The west is watching what is happening in Eastern Europe. The east is watching how the west responds. I believe Pastor Roberts may be right as China looks to the response with plans for Taiwan. I pray that war does not break out globally, but there was a time when the US was embroiled in a two-front war - one in Europe and one in the East. The players have changed, but sometimes it seems that history repeats.
Thus, this trending news report that seems to be centered around one issue on the Russian border is much larger.
What can be done? Politicians and military leaders are no doubt gathering in rooms in Washington and throughout Europe even now. Steps will be taken. Some will be avoided. And we watch and wait. Yet, while we wait, Christians must pray. This is more than the trendy, weakly offered "thoughts and prayers" that people often give. What is needed from the church now is face-down, heart-wrenching, God-believing, intercession for our brothers and sisters in Ukraine and surrounding areas. Images of praying Christians have been shared on news stations.
We have missionary friends in Ukraine and surrounding areas who are sharing the on-the-ground updates.
An evangelist friend has tickets to travel back to Ukraine in two weeks. Of course, those plans will likely change. He shared that over the last year numerous churches have been started in the nation. Hundreds have come to faith in Jesus Christ. These are our friends, brothers, and sisters. A Slavic revival has been happening among the people. While many foreigners are now leaving the nation, the native Ukrainians are unable do so. So they pray and we must join them.
The video below aired yesterday and shows people of Kharkiv praying as the impeding invasion comes.
So, we pray for Ukraine. We pray for the surrounding nations. We pray for those in Taiwan who are watching this unfold with their own fears. We pray for God's grace to abound.
Send Relief has released some prayer points that many are sharing, so we now pray together for these items. Praying. Believing. Hoping.
Send Relief also has available a giving option for those who wish to donate to provide resources for the displaced during the crisis. You may give here.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV) 3
1 Leonhardt, David. “War in Ukraine.” The New York Times, 24 Feb. 2022, link.
2 Mohler, Albert. "The Russian Bear is Poised for Attack: Russia Escalates Situation in Ukraine to Explosive Proportions." The Briefing, 21 Feb. 2022. link.
3 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Php 4:6–7). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.