400 Ukrainian Baptist churches have been lost since war with Russia
by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – Around 400 Ukrainian Baptist congregations have been displaced and lost since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, Church Leaders reports.
While humanitarian and practical aid has been coming through to rebuild churches, many Baptist pastors and church leaders have been displaced in the war, leaving no one to lead any remaining flocks, Church Leaders said. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has estimated that a third of Ukrainians have now been displaced from their homes.
In a statement to Baptist Press on August 12, Ukrainian Baptist Theological Seminary President Yaroslav Pyzh attested: “Since the war started, six months already, we lost about 400 Baptist churches. And so the real build is the rebuilding of leadership capacity, because if you rebuild buildings and you have no pastors to lead churches, I don’t think it’s going to do any good.”
A graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, Pyzh went on to explain that the challenge is not so much construction as it is spiritual rebuilding and leadership. “The real challenge is similar to [the Biblical] Nehemiah’s challenge,” Pyzh said. “It’s not only rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. It’s rebuilding the nation of Israel, of worshiping God. … That’s the same thing here in Ukraine.”
Pyzh noted that the longer the war drags on, the more Ukrainians, including church leaders, will move and relocate to the US and Germany, among other countries. “And sadly, the longer the war goes, the more the gap’s going to be, Pyzh said. The church is not buildings…And the only ones who can relieve and bring hope to the hopeless are pastors, churches, Christians.”
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