This week, Dr. Ivan Rusyn shares a special prayer message from Ukraine.
Lying north of the Black Sea, Ukraine gained sovereignty in 1991 after the Soviet Union’s collapse. Today, the country is home to 44 million people (82% Christian, mostly Orthodox). In 2013, Ukraine’s government suspended an agreement with the European Union to pursue closer ties with Russia. Several months of Euromaidan protests ensued, eventually escalating into a revolution that established a new government. A month later, in March 2014, Russia annexed Crimea. Relations between the two countries worsened after a Ukrainian drone attack on Russian-backed separatists last October. Currently, Russia has assembled over 100 thousand troops at Ukraine’s borders.
Ivan is President of Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary (UETS), a client school of the Vital SustainAbility Initiative. Founded in 1992, UETS trains Christian leaders throughout Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The school’s accredited programs equip students for church leadership and intercultural missions in contexts where Christians remain few and face persecution, and for peacemaking and trauma counseling in former and ongoing conflict zones.
After the 2014 Russian invasion of Crimea displaced 1.5 million people, UETS provided housing and meals for refugees arriving in Kiev. In 2020, UETS hosted Dr. Yohanna Katanacho, who had received the 2019 ScholarLeader of the Year Award, to speak from his Palestinian context on Christian identity and love for enemies. Ivan’s own life and leadership reflects a deep commitment to peacemaking and forgiveness in Christ’s name. Learn more about Ivan through this 2016 feature in Bible Study Magazine: Keeping the Faith in a Place of War.
Ivan shares the following message:
Dear UETS friends,
As tensions increase over fears of a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, with 130,000 troops and military hardware having been amassed on its border with Ukraine, we ask you to join us this week in our fervent prayer for peace in our country.
We are fully aware of the fact that the prospects of the looming war are not only about jeopardizing the right of Ukraine to exist as an independent state, calling into question the security of the European continent, causing numerous war casualties, and having a staggering effect on the world economy, but also building a new Iron Curtain across Ukraine which is today one of the freest countries in the world in terms of religious freedom.
Pray, please, for Ukraine to remain the place where God is on the move, reaching out to neighboring nations of Eastern Europe and Central Asia with the Gospel.
Pray for Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary to continue carrying out its mission of training national church leaders in the full scope and equipping the church with what it needs in different circumstances.
Pray about our faculty, staff, students and graduates, especially those serving as army chaplains, pastors and counselors, for them to be a source of support and encouragement for everyone in fear.
We firmly believe that our God is mighty enough to keep everything under His control. We also believe that in such moments the voice of hope, truth and reconciliation is of critical importance. Whatever happens, let His will be done and mission accomplished through us as His beloved children whose prayers He is always eager to hear!
Dr. Ivan Rusyn