Shelling by approaching Russian troops didn’t stop Baptists in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv from gathering for worship on a recent Sunday.
Pastor Vitaly Morokhovets’ congregation even celebrated the Lord’s Supper with the sound of exploding artillery in the distance.
“I thought it was inspirational, what they did,” said Tim Douglas, a former international missionary to Ukraine. “Too often, Christians here will stay home just because it rains. These Ukrainian Baptists put such a high priority on worship that they gathered despite the shelling. It should move us to prayer. It should move us to repent. It should move us to cry out to the Lord.”
Douglas, now pastor of Sycamore Baptist Church in southern Georgia, was so moved by the priority his Ukrainian friends put on gathering together on the Lord’s Day under such dangerous circumstances that he put a photograph of their church service on screen last week for his congregation to see.
The photo showed Ukrainian believers, who he had gotten to know while serving there, gathered in a small room, all wearing coats or sweaters to stave off the chill.
Morokhovets and his wife, Nadia, have been distributing food and offering encouragement to war-weary residents of Kharkiv, which has suffered heavy damages.
“It’s so hard to keep calm, even though I am not panicking,” Nadia Morokhovets told Douglas via text.
Kharkiv, some 25 miles from the Russian border, was one of the first cities to come under attack by Russian troops. Photographs from The Associated Press show heavy damage in the city.
“It’s been so exhausting,” Nadia Morokhovets wrote. “They are wiping off our city from the face of the earth. Everyone is scared, stressed. We Christians are praying a lot, trying to cheer up each other but [it] seems like our courage is reducing.”
Faith amid crisis
Douglas said Ukraine Baptists are showing the Christian world what it means to trust in the Lord.
“They are not allowing their circumstances to control their faith but allowing their faith to control their circumstances,” he said.