Has the role of the churches in Ukraine made a difference to the outcome of the revolution?
Religion is often portrayed as part of the problem in political, national conflicts. But, can we see in Ukraine that it has been a force for good? Yes, I believe so. The dramatic change between Friday evening and Saturday morning (when the president and his accomplices left) is nothing less than a miracle, in my opinion.
It is not the role of a church to take sides between equal political parties. The role is to make God’s Kingdom visible in the context of the governance of a country. We can’t do that without getting involved in society. The charge of Jesus to the disciples, to be light in darkness and salt in decay, means that Christian faith is about being an influence for good things, to bear the fruit of the Spirit and set the standards.
The church tent in Maidan was a place for people of prayer from a variety of denominations. They served tea, listened, supported the volunteer medics etc. Along with the protestors they were clear about not being against Ukrainians of a different political opinion but focusing of getting a leadership that cared for the country.
After the president fled like a thief in the night it has been clear that he and other people in top positions have been hoarding luxury articles and build mansions that reflect their true motivation for taking on leadership – enriching themselves and living some kind of warped fairytale-dream.
The involvement of the church was definitely not motivated by getting publicity, as compensation for empty pews or any self-centered reason. The body of Christ here on earth shall be an incarnation of Jesus, always trying to understand what our Father in heaven wants us to be and do. I believe that the involvement on Maydan was motivated by a passion for right against wrong. After the “black Thursday” of violence the prayer-tent was still standing and nearby church-buildings was opened for the injured. Orthodox, Lutheran, Catholic, evangelical, whatever. They found each other in serving the people.
Apart from what I’ve seen of the Church in Ukraine, it has been wonderful to be part of a huge prayer-movement organized through social media. Through Facebook and Twitter a variety of messages have been shared about praying for Ukraine. I believe God has answered those prayers.
The effect and influence of prayer is in many ways mysterious to us. It is not a way to inform God or push him to act in a certain way. We pray because that is the way to approach God and because Jesus has encouraged us, told us to do it. Prayers for Ukraine have helped God’s will to be done on earth as it is functioning in heaven, in his Kingdom. So we keep on praying. For Ukraine, for Syria, for Vemezuela, for our countries, towns, enemies and friends. Because it matters and makes a difference.
I lived for five years in Ukraine but I haven’t been there since January 2011. I understand it is a huge challenge to keep the country together – respecting its history and past struggles and still raising hopes for the future. But we can all be encouraged by the ministry of the Christian Church. With God’s help they will bring out the best of the wonderful people of Ukraine; resisting lies and propaganda about an East and West division and seeing the possibilities with a new generation of leaders who can serve their country without a corrupt heart.