The situation in Ukraine remains very challenging and difficult for our brothers and sisters of the Ukrainian Lutheran Church (ULC). Rev. Roger Neumann serves as the WELS liaison to the ULC and is in almost daily contact with Bishop Vyacheslav Horpynchuk, the head of the ULC. Neumann provides regular updates with information provided by Horpynchuk.
Horpynchuk often reports of the situation on the ground in Ukraine. Heavy shelling of populated areas continues. Even though there are widespread power outages and a lack of heat and sometimes even water, the congregations of the ULC continue to meet for worship (dressed in winter clothing) whenever possible. Pastors continue to be faithful to their callings by preaching, teaching, calling on members, and distributing food and medicine to their members, refugees, and communities. Many members have had to flee from their hometowns, but those people are often served by pastors in congregations where the danger is less intense.
Even when it seems safe, often it is not. Last Sunday one worship service was interrupted by a shell that fell 800 meters from the church, shaking the building and breaking some windows. Members in Kiev try to go about their normal life, using public transportation to travel. But when an air raid siren sounds, all public transportation stops. Subways can be stopped for two or more hours. Sometimes people need to remain in bomb shelters for up to seven hours. At night, when missile strikes shake their apartments, they wake up in fear and anxiety, wondering when the next missile will hit. Whenever families are separated by work, school, or buying groceries, they are in constant fear for one another’s safety. Yet they are quick to confess that they believe that the Lord will watch over them and that they await an enduring kingdom that is secured by our Lord Jesus, a kingdom where they will be safe eternally.
Plans for new church buildings have been put on hold, but there is every intention to continue those projects when the war is over. In the meantime, even small temporary places of worship become places of refuge and comfort as God’s Word is preached and his promises proclaimed.
Because of your generous gifts, WELS continues to provide financial support to the ULC. The pastors and people are using those funds carefully and wisely, providing food, clothing, medicine, and transportation to those who need it. Thank you for your generous gifts!
Please continue to keep our brothers and sisters in your prayers. Thank God that they continue to worship and hear his Word. Thank God that he has kept them safe. Pray that God would continue to bless them with his loving protection and that peace will soon be restored throughout Ukraine.
Serving with you in Christ,
WELS President Mark Schroeder