If you’ve been watching the news this week, you know that there is a crisis happening in Europe. Russia has invaded Ukraine on several fronts. While the Ukrainian army is doing its best to protect its people and its independence, the situation is dire. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have fled the country and those who have chosen to remain face danger, as the Russian army pushes toward Kyiv.
Civilians, including children, have been injured and killed, though it is impossible to know how many yet. While talks are set to take place between Russia and Ukraine today, a diplomatic resolution to the conflict seems unlikely and the fighting rages on.
Yet in the midst of the devastation and violence, we read stories of faith leaders who are standing as pillars of strength in their communities. Rather than fleeing, they remain in their sacred spaces to pray for peace, to resist, and most of all, to serve those in need. A church in Kherson has opened its building to shelter those whose homes have been destroyed in bombings. Another church further west has taken in refugees, with its members serving meals to those who have left everything behind. And still another church in Kyiv risked following the lead of its young members and purchased a large van, in the hopes that they could help to evacuate at least a few community members with no other means of travel.
There is so much about who their pain and struggle I can’t possibly understand. Yet I do know that in the midst of the greatest challenges of life, the church is called to show up, to be present in real and tangible ways. These followers of Christ in Ukraine are living out the Way of Christ, sacrificing their safety and their comfort to serve the most vulnerable. Truly, they are walking in the footsteps of Christ, who taught, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).
Church, may the stories of these brave followers of Christ inspire us to look around our own community and see where God might be inviting us to serve more courageously and more sacrificially.