Last month Evan Hunter, Vice President for ScholarLeaders International, met with Christian leaders in Ukraine to discuss “Theology and Theological Education after Bucha”. These men and women have served thousands, providing food, medical supplies, and Bibles to those in need. “We have much to learn from this people,” Evan said on social media, “which courageously confronts and does not bend in front of the powers of evil, to the devil itself, with the conviction that God will give them victory.”
We asked Evan three questions regarding his trip. This interview took place before before Putin announced the mobilization of another 300,000 Russian troops. Here are Evan’s responses:
1.) What most surprised you about your visit to Ukraine?
When I returned to Ukraine, the “normalcy” in the lives and routines of many of the Ukrainian people surprised me. I have told people that about 85% of the time, things seemed quite normal; each day, we went to the coffee shop and out to dinner in Kyiv. However, the other 15% was a stark reminder of the realities of war. The air raid sirens went off every night. We visited Bucha and Irpin and saw the horrors of war – burned-out homes and the locations of war crimes, such as murder and torture. Yet even there, the resiliency and resolve of the Ukrainian people were evident in how they had cleared streets and reopened shops. We also saw evidence of God’s grace. Indeed, the church has grown in credibility and witness through caring for refugees, providing meals, and valuing the humanity of people in crisis. The Baptist church in Bucha has grown from about 250 to 800 during the war. The Ukrainian people will not be terrorized, and God acts redemptively even in the trauma of war.
2.) What was your biggest take away from your time in Ukraine?
We work with an amazing group of committed, gifted, and godly leaders. These seminary presidents, deans, and faculty members have stepped in heroically to provide relief. Even while meeting so many physical needs, they continue to provide theological reflection and guidance for the church and so many people who are asking questions about the presence and action of God during such atrocities. They are beacons of hope in the darkness.
3.) What are a few specific ways we can pray for the seminaries ScholarLeaders International works with in Ukraine?
- Pray for the leaders to maintain their energy and hope. As one leader commented, “We are all wounded.” Everyone has experienced the loss of friends or family members. More than 1/3 of the population has been displaced. People have lost their homes. They live under a constant threat of missiles – many of which hit civilian targets as Russia attempts to terrorize the people. Pray for strength to endure and for moments of rest and renewal as they lead in an environment of continual strain.
- Pray for wisdom as these theological schools return to their first calling to teach and train Christian leaders. They are seeking to address an increasing need for training in counseling, peacebuilding, and reconciliation because of the war.
- Pray for protection for relief teams working close to the front lines.
- Pray for peace to come with justice for the horrific atrocities that have been committed.
In February of 2022, ScholarLeaders International established the Ukrainian Relief Fund to support our client schools—faculty, students, and those in their community seeking refuge in their midst. You can read a recent update about the Ukrainian Relief Fund here.