An Open Appeal of the Council of the ‘Word of Life’ UCCU in Regards to the Military Aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine
The ‘Word of Life’ Union of Christian Churches of Ukraine includes churches from different regions of our country. In our country, all unions and denominations are made up of people of different age groups, genders, nationalities, and beliefs. And we all affirm that Ukrainians promote the principles of peace and good neighborhood. There are no infringements on language, national or other grounds in Ukraine. Our country is a democratic state, where freedom of thought and belief is always welcome and ideas of Nazism or fascist manifestations are not tolerated, although Russian propaganda claims otherwise.
In 2014 Russia has occupied the Ukrainian Crimea and unleashed a war on the territory of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. As a result, millions of Ukrainians were forced to flee and thousands of people were killed, injured, or lost their homes. Had it not been for the propaganda and military-political support of the LPR and DPR by the Russian federation back then, peace would have come there long ago, just like it did in Slovyansk, Kramatorsk, and other cities of Ukraine. But it did not happen.
On February 24, 2022, at 4:50 am, Russia committed a full-scale act of military aggression against Independent Ukraine, throwing simultaneous attacks from several directions.
While calling it ‘demilitarization’, Russian troops regularly carry out missiles and bomb strikes not only on military facilities but also targeting residential areas, children’s hospitals, maternity clinics, schools, kindergartens, food storage, power plants, thus, destroying civilian infrastructure. More than four million of fellow-Ukrainians were forced to leave their country and about ten million – their homes.
Soldiers are not the only ones dying, but also thousands of civilians – women, children, and the elderly. Many cases of looting, raping, and murder of evacuated families have already been recorded. Pastors are being kidnapped, church buildings closed, worship services banned, and dozens of religious institutions destroyed. Thousands of buildings were destroyed. Some cities were literally wiped off the face of the earth. We clearly understand that all these actions are called war.
The Scripture strengthens those who are unjustly attacked, ‘When evil people come to devour me when my enemies and foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid. Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident.’ Psalms 27:2-3
That is why we appeal to all to stop the Russian aggression. The Russian troops that have entered the territory of Ukraine must leave our land.
We purely understand what Lord Jesus said in Matthew 26:52, ‘Put away your sword,’ … ‘Those who use the sword will die by the sword.’ Joel, the prophet, also said it earlier, ‘Hammer your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Train even your weaklings to be warriors.’ (Joel 3:10).
For these reasons, Ukraine has united against Russian aggression, everyone helps to defend the country, city, and family in their own way.
Many joined the Armed Forces of Ukraine or the territorial defense team to defend their homeland from Russian invaders. Some volunteered to help evacuate women, children, and the elderly from the combat zone. Volunteer centers for assistance and resettlement of refugees have been set up. Ukrainian churches, regardless of denomination, have turned into volunteer hubs and first aid centers. We pray and work for the good of our country.
We can see only one option to stop this bloody war. The keys to the war are in the hands of the leadership of the Russian Federation, which unleashed this aggression. The war will end at the moment Russia ends it. Ukraine has not attacked any country in all the years of independence, including the last eight years.
We stay in touch with our Russian brothers in Christ. Some of them understand what is happening and are trying to change something, others are silent, resigned to what is happening, others follow propaganda, often not wanting to listen to anyone. We love them and pray for them. At the same time we understand that relations between our countries can begin to be restored only after certain events:
1. Russia must withdraw all its troops from the entire territory of Ukraine.
2. The Russian people must acknowledge the fact of many years of aggression against Ukrainians and repent of it openly in public.
3. The Russian Federation must compensate through reparation for all the damage that it inflicted on Ukraine and its people during the war.
4. Military criminals must be punished in international courts as they deserve it.
5. For further good-neighborly relations, Russia must abandon the ideas of superiority over the post-soviet countries, but have an adequate, democratic position, respecting both neighboring countries and its own citizens, who currently suffer the effects of repression and censorship.
All of these above-stated actions joined with mutual prayers will eventually help to establish good neighborly relations between our countries. As for now, we need this war to be stopped!
The Union of the Christian Churches of Ukraine is a member of the ‘Word of Life’ International Association, which also includes countries with unresolved military conflicts, such as Armenia and Azerbaijan, Russia and Georgia, Israel and the Middle East countries. This helps us understand each other, sympathize with each other and support each other, overcoming all challenges and difficulties.
We are convinced that the churches of Russia and Ukraine should stop hating each other, pray for peace and do everything possible to stop the war.
At the same time, we believe that the Church is the Salt of the Earth and the Light to the world. The church should be the voice of the conscience of its people. It was called to call a spade a spade. If the conscience is silent, a distorted perception of reality comes in its place, which can lead us to the wrong path. That is why we truly believe that standing in truth is vitally important for every church in every nation.
‘An open rebuke is better than hidden love!’ Proverbs 27:5
Let’s act in faith, hope, love, showing them to everyone and to everyone. And may the Lord, the Source of truth, comfort, and strength, help us to have peace in our hearts, even in the days of sorrow, pain, and despair.
With prayer and blessings,
The board and the churches
‘Word of Life’ Union of Christian Churches of Ukraine