Divide – Invade – Persecute
Persecution is taking place in all three of the areas of Ukraine that Russia has either taken outright or by proxy. These areas include all of the Crimea and portions of Donetsk and Lugansk. In this journal, we will share briefly how this is taking place starting with the Crimean peninsula which has been illegally annexed by Russia.
Long before Russia sent in its unmarked “little green men” (soldiers in army uniforms on which all identifying patches and marks have been removed) into the Crimea, their army of internet trolls and mass media was already sowing division and discord into this area of Ukraine to prepare the land for a future invasion. The propaganda was equally strong in Russia as the government began to prepare the Russian population for a time when they would need to “rescue” their fellow Russians living in Ukraine from an imaginary genocide… a genocide that existed only in the halls of the Kremlin.
The only significant population of Muslims in Ukraine, are the Crimean Tatars who have lived at enmity with the Soviet Union (having been exiled by the USSR after WW2), but at peace with Ukraine (having been welcomed back after Ukraine gained independence in 1981). After Russia took over the Crimea in 2014, the persecution of the Tatar population began again. Here is an article that talks about Russia’s persecution in the Crimea. The article was written eight months ago, but nothing has changed in Russia’s posture toward this minority population. Click here to read that article. Tatars aren’t the only people of faith being persecuted in the Crimea. Laws established by Russia make the persecution of all religious minorities possible simply by labeling their activities as potential terrorism. Here is an article that outlines some of that persecution; Click here.
On March 27 of this year, we received word that a church had been officially looted by members of the Russia backed and controlled, illegally formed government of the so-called Lugansk People’s Republic. This is a partial translation of the report of the happening:
“3/27/18 in the city Stachanova in the territory controlled by the LPR…15 people drove up in Soldier’s uniforms in two vehicles… According to witnesses, they turned all the lights on and the devastation of the House of Prayer began. At approximately 11 p.m., two more trucks arrived. People in soldiers’ uniforms carried out literally everything: pulpit, communion chalice, pews, sound system, air conditioners, musical instruments, chairs and other furniture, hot water heater, the electricity stabilizer, heater pipes and radiators, gas stove, electric oven, the entire kitchen (incl. cabinets), refrigerator, all pots, pans and dishes, all food items, water reserve tank, water pump, the tub, sink and tile (from the bathroom), baby carriage. They took the curtains and shade, lamps and lights. They ripped off the wood paneling in the main auditorium and all inside doors were taken, as was linoleum… They ripped the light switches off the walls. They took other stuff from the basement and from the shed. They loaded up everything in trucks and took it to an unknown location…”
This type of persecution was common during the occupation of the Soviet Union and is still happening in Russia, but no one expected this to ever happen again on Ukrainian soil.
The most recent officially sanctioned
oppression took place in the large Ukrainian city of Makeevka in the occupied portion of the Donetsk province. Since 2014, the controlling entity of this area is the illegally formed, Russia backed and controlled, so-called Donetsk People’s Republic. The evangelical church called New Life Church and the charitable foundation known as the Family (ministry) Center received an official visit from the DPR. Here is a translation of the account provided of this visit:
“July 06, 2018 our church “New Life”… has lost its church building. Around midday, seven government representatives came, some armed, and said that our building no longer belongs to us. Despite all discussions and negotiations, the building was sealed shut. Through four years of war, more than 700 different people received spiritual and material help. Every Sunday people heard the living Word of God, many of these repented of their sins and there are those who are preparing to receive water baptism. In addition to spiritual food, the hungry received bread, the unclothed (received) clothing, and the barefoot – shoes. On Sunday, through the gates of the church will come 120 people… what next?… Is it possible this is only the beginning of persecution? I (the pastor) need wisdom and God’s direction.”
The Family Center has been threatened before, but because of all the good works they were doing in the community, the authorities backed down. We don’t know why this time they didn’t. The church has continued to minister bravely and faithfully in spite of a clear and present danger. What will happen now is completely in God’s hands and we ask that you hold your brothers and sisters in Christ up before the throne of Grace so that God would be glorified in Donetsk, Lugansk and the Crimea.