KHARKIV, Ukraine – As the sun topped the horizon of Kharkiv’s central square this morning (March 2), a group of people huddled together on their knees, praying for their city. While the moment passed without celebration or fanfare, it marked the 365th consecutive day the group has gathered.
They came from different parts of the city and were a mix of evangelical denominations and Orthodox believers, but they focused on one goal – to pray for peace in their city, which is located very close to the region where Ukrainian soldiers and pro-Russian separatists battle for control over eastern Ukraine.
IMB Photo by Marc Ira Hooks
As passers-by make their way to work, Christians from many confessions gather together to pray for their city. Using well-worn pieces of foam to protect their knees, the group prays not only for Ukraine, but Russia, and those who are at war in Ukraine’s east.
Last year, protesters clashed in the streets of Kharkiv. “When we heard that people started fighting, we came here to the center of the city and we kneeled here,” Nadia, the wife of a Ukrainian pastor, said. At the time it was predicted by some that Kharkiv would be one of the first cities to fall to pro-Russian separatists. However, a year later, the group continues to pray for peace in their city and is grateful that God has continued to protect them from the fighting. “Our city is under the wing of the Lord,” Nadia said. “There is peace and I praise God for that. But our hearts are broken for cities where war takes place.”
One pastor, Alexander, believes the group is having an impact on the entire city by meeting on the central square each morning. “People are worried and discouraged. And all the news is controversial,” Pastor Alexander said. “I believe that our ministry here will bring people peace, to bring truth, to bring hope to God’s people.”
“We see that we need these prayers. And that our country needs these prayers,” Nadia said. “That is why we are still here.”
An International Mission Board worker, who serves in Kharkiv and regularly attends the daily prayer meetings, says the group has committed to meet daily for at least the next six months and does not know if or when the group will stop meeting. For now, they will continue to gather each morning as they pray for their city and for peace.
Pray for Christian workers and believers in Ukraine as they minister to their communities. Pray for a resolution to the crisis in Ukraine. Pray that lives will be changed and that people will follow Jesus during this time of war.
The UN Refugee Agency has reported that more than one million Ukrainians have been displaced as a result of the war in eastern Ukraine. Countless others have suffered property damage due to rocket and missile attacks.
For more information on how you can be involved, go to facebook.com/RebirthEUA or send an email to [email protected].
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Marc Ira Hooks is an IMB correspondent based in Europe.)