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Voice of truth: the position of the church in the war

Victim or perpetrator?

Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out in the field.” When they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Gen. 4:8


Reading this passage from the Bible, perhaps no one has difficulty determining which of the brothers is the victim and which is the perpetrator. Unfortunately, the war in Ukraine has further widened the gap and burned most, if not all, of the bridges between Christians in Russia and Christians in Ukraine, between mothers in Russia and mothers in Ukraine, between members of the same family in Russia and Ukraine. If until February of this year someone could still believe in the mantra about “fraternal peoples”, then after the start of the “special operation”, it would seem that the criminal was identified and exposed, but that was not the case. The time bomb called propaganda has been working for too long for those who would to listen to its ticking. As with the occupation of Crimea and the Donbass war in 2014, Russia again tried to put the blame to someone other than itself. And many did believe it to be true.


When asked about support for the war in Ukraine, one can hear responses from ordinary Russians like: “I am all in for peace, but there was no other choice, Ukraine would not make contact, I know it from the TV.” For those who lived through the horrors of war, this phrase sound outrageous and unfair to say the least, it reflects an unwillingness to dig deeper to understand the true situation.


There are two photographs that well illustrate, on the one hand, the unity of Ukrainians in helping their neighbor, and on the other hand, how well the Russian autocratic system works for justifying the “special operation” by any means and stifling the voice of sanity.


Forgiveness

Ukrainian religious scholar Mikhail Cherenkov, in his article “The Church at War: Ten Anxieties of Christians,” divides Russians who support the war against Ukraine into those who actively do so, blaming Ukrainians themselves for fictitious crimes and sins and those who silently watch and stand aside. The scholar states that silence is a form of passive complicity.


Source: http://cherenkoff.blogspot.com/2022/06/blog-post_8.html


Where can one find the strength to forgive the offender, just as Jesus commanded? After all, the Holiness of God had been insulted and trampled on, both spiritual and bodily wounds were inflicted on him. The enmity does fades away with time and reconciliation sets in, but for this to come true the culprit must first take the path of repentance. Repentance involves a full admission of guilt and a sincere desire to improve. The criminal needs to drink the bitter cup of punishment, and the Russian side has not even embarked on this path yet.


But even if we imagine such a course of events, where Russia itself lays down the arms and asks for forgiveness from Ukraine, the wounds left by the unleashed war will not heal for a long time. Ukrainians will look at the Russians for a long time to come as murderers with blood on their hands up to their elbows.


The role of the church

“Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:13-17.


The only correct way for Christians in this situation is the way of condemning evil and illuminating the truth that makes free, the truth that calls things by their proper names and denounces evil. Christians should not be afraid to give their sound and sober assessment of lawlessness and not be afraid to look evil in the eye. It is important to remember that all the authority is from God, but, above all, all the authority belongs to God. (Matthew 28:18).


No matter how painful and burning the wound and anger towards the enemy, Christians must put on the whole armor of God and continue to carry out their ministry. In this way, the church will be able to withstand the challenges of wartime and get even more tempered in the heat of war.

Spiritual front

AMBCU envisages its mission in spreading the Good News through social ministry to the people of Ukraine, whose lives were shattered by the war. For this, the AMBCU churches have united into nine aid centers around Ukraine, designed to respond to the physical, and especially the spiritual needs of those in need.


Living according to evangelical principles, the AMBCU churches seek to restore and strengthen the spiritual and cultural influence of the Mennonites, who once lived on Ukrainian soil and whose fame is still referred to in the works of modern historians.


The army has a military front, and the church has a spiritual one

Roman Rakhuba, Director of the AMBCU since 2014

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