Hands resting on a Bible, holding a blue and yellow heart
Hands resting on a Bible, holding a blue and yellow heart

Statement on Ukraine

“Hammer away, ye hostile bands. Your hammers break; God’s anvil stands.”
~ Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, author of The Answer to the Atheist’s Handbook, quoting Reverend Samuel Valentine Cole (1851-1925)

During times of humanitarian crisis, The Voice of the Martyrs Canada (VOMC) is frequently asked how the mission will respond to any given situation. I understand that the motive behind such inquiries is based on genuine concern, and thus prompted by a desire to alleviate the suffering of those caught up in horrendous circumstances. Today, with the eyes of the world focussed on the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian military, many are asking us how we are responding to the mounting humanitarian crisis – hence the reason for this issued statement.

First, as with any incident, the VOMC leadership deliberated whether the present crisis is persecution-related. Since VOMC is a ministry specifically called to serve persecuted Christians, this is a question of stewarding our calling. VOMC uses the following definition of persecution where applicable to global situations that require greater understanding:

“A situation where Christians are repetitively, persistently and systematically inflicted with severe suffering or harm, and deprived of (or significantly threatened with deprival of) their fundamental human rights, because of the differences that result from being a Christian which the persecutor will not tolerate.”

While some issues that are brought to our attention reveal evident cases of persecution, others require robust research and authentication to prove persecution exists. As a result, we frequently must make difficult decisions on whether we should respond to certain situations by providing assistance. Since each case involves real people enduring real suffering, it pains us whenever having to reach the point of stating that their request for assistance does not fall under the mission’s mandate to primarily serve those who are experiencing severe persecution due to their Christian faith. However, the mission partners we engage with when facilitating our international ministry projects remind us to remain steadfast in that specific calling.

Years ago, I visited a ministry partner in Sri Lanka who took me to see several persecuted Christians. As we travelled, we discussed the many struggles these believers were dealing with in his country – from political unrest and poverty, to complications of natural disasters. Towards the end of our conversation, my friend turned to me and advised: “Whatever you do, please keep your focus on helping the persecuted Christians here. So many agencies help us with these other issues, but so few are dedicated to serving the persecuted church.”

This conversation left an impression on me, bringing to my realization how God uses each mission organization for a specific purpose to reveal His sovereignty and greater purposes. Some bring comfort and support to those crippled by the weight of general suffering, while others serve those who are persecuted for their faith. Pastor Richard Wurmbrand stated that the church must be ready to provide a piece of bread and the “Bread of Life” for all those served by its ministry.

Ukrainian refugees gathered, bundled against the cold. (Photo: VOM)
So many Ukrainians have been forced to flee their homes and communities due to the present crisis. Please continue to pray with us on their behalf for the Lord’s mighty intervention and provision.

The aftermath of the fighting and bombing from the Russian forces changes daily, but the number of casualties continues to increase. In addition, news agencies report that one million refugees have fled from Ukraine to Poland, Moldova, Romania and Hungary. Further estimates indicate that the number of refugees could rise to five or six million, producing a monumental humanitarian crisis to which the world must act. That said, VOMC’s position is that the suffering we are witnessing derives from an ‘act of war’ and not Christian persecution. However, should Russia win their war, we may see a scenario where religious restrictions and discrimination against evangelicals and members of the Protestant church in Ukraine will lead to persecution.

The Co-founder and President of The Voice of the Martyrs Korea, Dr. Foley, reported that when pro-Russian forces took control of the Donbas territory in eastern Ukraine during 2014, it was natural for anti-Protestant suspicions to coalesce into anti-Protestant policies and laws, similar to those implemented in Russia during the same period. As a result, for Christians in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region, underground church life is already an everyday reality.

Dr. Foley further comments that the new constitutions of both the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics permit the discrimination against Protestant churches under the force of the law. “Both of the constitutions stipulate the Russian Orthodox Church as the ‘pillar’ of each respective republic,” says Dr. Foley. “Both constitutions ban so-called religious ‘propaganda’ that would claim any other religion as ‘superior’ to Russian Orthodoxy.”

So then, how should we respond to the need?

The first answer is prayer. I cannot downplay the importance of prayer, which must be paramount; for in prayer, we gain God’s perspective and seek His counsel. Prayer acknowledges His dominion over all things and helps us to trust in His goodness even in the face of trouble. Philippians 4:6-7 reminds us: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Secondly, should you feel led to financially assist with the massive humanitarian crisis unfolding in Ukraine, I highly recommend that you consider donating to the ministry of Crossroads/100 Huntley Street by contacting: www.crossroads.ca/ukraine or 1-800-265-3100.

Two additional trustworthy ministry partners with The Voice of the Martyrs Canada are Mission Eurasia and Impact Ministry Group. These particular ministries have facilitated numerous projects supporting persecuted Christians in former USSR nations.

Finally, I want to call attention to the fact that many pastors and church members in Ukraine have decided to stay and serve their community amid the chaos and uncertainty. Please understand that VOMC is not critical of Christians who have decided to flee. We cannot begin to understand the immense difficulties and pressures that they and their families are presently under. However, these believers are not escaping persecution but rather the brutalities of war. Those who remain have committed themselves to serving their neighbours by feeding the spiritual hunger this invasion has caused. Many Ukrainians are turning to the church to provide them with answers in their search for greatly needed comfort.

In a report from The Gospel Coalition, Pastor Vasyl Ostryi wrote the following: “We have decided to stay, both as a family and as a church. When this is over, the citizens of Kyiv will remember how Christians have responded in their time of need. And while the church may not fight like the nation, we still believe we have a role to play in this struggle. We will shelter the weak, serve the suffering and mend the broken. And as we do, we offer the unshakable hope of Christ and His Gospel. While we may feel helpless in the face of such a crisis, we can pray like Esther. Ukraine is not God’s covenant people but, like Israel, our hope is that the Lord will remove the danger as He did for His ancient people. And as we stay, we pray that the church in Ukraine will faithfully trust the Lord and serve our neighbours.”

The current spiritual hunger has virtually depleted the Ukrainian church’s inventory of Bibles and, therefore, God’s Word is in high demand. The Voice of the Martyrs Canada is committed to assisting the church in Ukraine with resources to minister to the spiritual needs of their people. As a result, we are providing 50,000 New Testaments for distribution among the churches in Ukraine so they can share the powerful message of the Gospel during this critical time.

If you would like to contribute towards this project through VOMC’s Bible Fund, please go to VOMCanada.com/give/bible-fund or call us toll-free here in Canada at 1-888-29-VOICE (or 1-888-298-6423).

Whether you decide to give to Ukrainian refugees’ physical needs or provide Bibles for those who have opted to remain in their country, rest assured that your contribution will be a blessing. Pastor Ostryi further stated: “How should the church respond when there is a growing threat of war? When there is constant fear in society? I’m convinced that if the church is not relevant at a time of crisis, then it is not relevant in a time of peace.” Pastor Ostryi is not speaking to the church in Ukraine but to the global church witnessing these events unfold. In this time of war, we can respond with Christlike love, which will bring God glory whether we be at war or peace.

May the Lord bless, keep and prosper you as you faithfully respond to His leading.

Floyd (signature)

Floyd A. Brobbel
Chief Executive Officer
The Voice of the Martyrs Canada Inc.

Prayer: During this turbulent time, Lord, may Your peace calm the hearts of the people in Ukraine and others worldwide as they face the uncertainties of the war. May each one come to place their trust and hope in You, and live as “salt” and “light” amid the chaos and destruction. We pray that members of the Russian government will reverse their hostile actions, opting to pursue a humanitarian outcome instead. Meanwhile, may the church in Poland and other neighbouring countries be adequately equipped with the necessary resources as they reach out with Your love to the hundreds of thousands who have been forced to flee their homes in search of safety. In addition, we ask that You will continue to strengthen and encourage believers who have been living under severe restrictions in disputed areas for the past eight years. In Jesus’ all-powerful name, amen.

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