Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am currently in Odessa, where all is still relatively well. Air raid alarms rarely sound. A couple of minutes ago, I heard shots from the sea. A rocket hit a house not far from the house where my mother is, but thankfully it did not explode. You may know what is happening in other cities from the news. My wife and children have gone to Poland, so I’m not worried.

What of other Ukrainian Christians? What is the state of the church in Ukraine currently? There are some pastors and churches that are under fire in Kyiv every day and need the prayers of God’s people. There is the pastor of the Holy Trinity Presbyterian Church in Kyiv, Pastor Ivan Bespalov, with his family. Another Reformed pastor in Kyiv, Pastor Sergey Nakul, reported that his young son recently asked, “Dad, if Putin kills us, will we go to heaven?” “Yes, son, of course we will go to heaven.”

Due to the chaos, I think that the state of the church here can be described as follows: a state of prayer, full trust in the Lord, and readiness to fight to the end. There’s a sense of pride on the part of the Ukrainian people, but also humility before the Lord, for we Christians know that our people are not sinless and need repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Yesterday, for the first time, I heard our president clearly declare faith in God and the inevitability of God’s retribution. He even expressed hope in Him. This is a very good sign. But we understand that this is still only a general belief in the existence of God, and we pray that our president, like the entire nation, will know God in the true Messiah, Jesus Christ.

We pray because we need a miracle. The Ukrainian army and ordinary people are putting up a heroic resistance, and we are filled with pride for our people as never before. We are grateful for the support that Western countries have provided in the form of weapons, sanctions, and care for refugees. But we understand very well that we need a miracle because of the prevailing enemy. Russia still has a lot of resources and Putin still has a lot of soldiers to throw to their deaths. And he has nuclear weapons. Our hope is only in God, and we need a miracle to withstand the threat we face and to prevent our destruction.

Our hope is only in God, and we need a miracle to withstand the threat we face and to prevent our destruction.

We pray, and we are also ready to fight. There are fewer and fewer pacifists even in the traditionally pacifist denominations. Many brothers, young and old, volunteer for the army and territorial defense and fight till the end. Not because they hate Russians but because there is no other way to protect what we hold dear—our country, our children, and our freedom, including the freedom to believe in and worship the one true God.

For every Christian, the following question is especially urgent now: How do we hate evil and also love our enemies who commit egregious crimes? And we are no longer conceptualizing this question theoretically. When hatred boils up in us, we understand that we will need to forgive and to love. And two truths are especially valuable for us now: God’s just retribution and the cross of our Lord. Our hearts are comforted in the truth of God’s retribution. He will repay His unrepentant enemies in a way that we could never have done ourselves. Our hearts are humble before the cross of Calvary—we, as well as our enemies, deserve the wrath of God, but God has reconciled us to Himself with the blood of His Son. We were under the power of the devil, just like everyone else, but God redeemed us with the blood of Christ.

We, as Christians, now vividly witness the bloody fruits of Putin’s war, and we’re shocked that many, though not all, Russians have followed him. We Christians are aware that the tendency to suppress the truth with untruth and to believe what we want to believe is a property of fallen human nature, and we are also not immune from this. Therefore, we pray for the repentance of our enemies, so that God will free them from the power of the devil’s deception.

We believe we’ll come out as victors. We know that evil is defeated by the cross and the resurrection of our Lord. We know that whatever our enemies do to us, we will be resurrected, because God has united us with Christ. Therefore, we celebrate the victory of our Lord. The main battle took place, and the main enemy was defeated by the cross.

Pray for us, my dear brothers and sisters. Pray for our people to withstand, to survive, and to forgive afterward. Our hope is only in the Lord. Isaiah once said that horses and chariots are flesh and not spirit (Isa. 31:3). And we haven’t forgotten that. Tanks and planes are just iron, but true victory comes from the Spirit of God. “In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. Deliver me, O LORD, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue” (Ps. 120:1–2).

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