Friday, February 19, 2010

Pyromaniacs Blog Entry About Ukraine

The following blog entry by John MacArthur was brought to my attention because it mentions Russia and Ukraine in regards to the negative impact of bad theology being imported from the Western church:

I posted the following response to it:

I serve as a missionary in the Russian-speaking world. I agree with Dr. MacArthur's analysis as far as it goes. There are indeed unhealthy influences here from the West. But the problems are not only from without--but from within. Man-centered theology permeates the church here too with its strong Anabaptist roots. And the top-down style of leadership inherited from the Soviet era does not always lead to an appeal to Scripture as the final authority when matters of faith and life are in question. But my biggest concern is how these two weaknesses converge to weaken the message of the Gospel of Grace. While justification by faith is taught as necessary for salvation, it is not expounded in terms of its relationship to everyday life and as the basis and motivation for the pursuit of holiness. Without that, the church can never grow as it ought. The best antidote to confusing or even dangerous theology is leaders and congregations who are Gospel-driven and Cross-centered. The next generation will not be easily distracted by hype or lured away by the empty promises of a pragmatized Christianity when they are being amazed and transformed by the Gospel as a way of life. Please keep the church in this part of the world in your prayers. Pray that leaders (and missionaries) would guard the Gospel in our lives as well as our lips.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Ukraine Election News Videos

Below are several links to videos from the Reuters News Service regarding the elections that are taking place in Ukraine today:

Ukraine decides

Ukraine presidential showdown

Cash-strapped Ukraine goes to polls

New videos will be posted as they are available on the New Feeds page of our website:

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Please Pray for Ukraine This Sunday

On Sunday, February 7, there will be a presidential runoff here in Ukraine. What ought to be a normal part of the electoral process threatens, however, to further divide a country that is polarized over its identity and its place in Europe. People who live in central and western Ukraine tend to favor Yulia Tymoshenko (who is currently the Prime Minister and who advocates a closer relationship to the West). People who live in eastern Ukraine (where there is also a high percentage of ethnic Russians) strongly support the current front-runner (and an advocate of closer ties to Russia), Viktor Yanukovych. Tensions are mounting between the two candidates and their supporters. Even though the election does not begin for several hours, there are already many rumors and pre-emptive accusations by both candidates of widespread efforts at vote tampering and fraud.  Consequently both candidates are poised to call their supporters into the streets of Kyiv for mass demonstrations in the event that they lose the election.  The US embassy has warned American citizens to stay away from the downtown area on Sunday to avoid any possibility of violence.

Of course there is much history behind all this: Russia's domination of Ukraine during the Soviet era (which included the genocidal starvation of millions of Ukrainians in 1932-1934); Ukraine's independence in 1991; and the recent Orange Revolution in 2004 which heralded a major step away from its Soviet past and toward a brighter democratic future. Unfortunately, that never happened. What has happened over the past 5 years has been political infighting which has left the country mired in corruption (Ukraine has been rated one of the most politically corrupt countries in the world according to Transparency International), an increasingly lower standard of living, and a very disillusioned populace.

So what do believers do in times like these? We pray. We pray to the God who rules over the nations and who positions their leaders (I Timothy 2:1-3). And as we pray, we pray for the advancement of the Gospel. So what does that mean here in Ukraine? Well, it doesn't necessarily mean that you should pray for the election of a particular candidate in the runoff here. Each has personal and political baggage. Neither seems to have risen above self-interest and the "politics as usual" of the past. What it means is that we go before the King and ask Him to act in a way that promotes the Gospel in Ukraine. He knows better than any of us what that involves. Usually (as Paul points out in I Tim. 2:2) that involves a governance that brings about peace and stability which is generally advantageous for evangelism. But Paul's own imprisonment (largely due to unjust politicians!) illustrates well that God knows best what will further His Gospel (Phil. 1:12).

So pray for Ukraine. Pray for the election that it will be conducted fairly and peacefully. Pray for the people--that regardless of the outcome, they will be more predisposed to the Gospel. And pray especially for the Church here in Ukraine. Pray that whatever happens, God will fill and empower His church in a way that puts Jesus Christ on display. I personally long to see good leadership here in Ukraine (and back home in the USA for that matter!) But what we need even more are Christians who have a passion to  reflect the Light of Jesus in dark places (Matthew 5:16). Pray for a single-minded devotion to Christ that longs for His Kingdom to come and desires to be an accurate foretaste of that kingdom now. Pray as Jesus taught us: "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done...."

May it start with us,


PS For more information on what is happening in Ukraine, check out the link below to the Kyiv Post: