A word from Ukraine

Divisional Commander provides an update for The Salvation Army

By Bill Heeley, Lt. Colonel – 

I want to take this opportunity on behalf of everyone in Ukraine to thank Salvationists across the world for their prayers for peace and protection over recent days. What began as a peaceful protest by students in Independence Square, Kiev, in November 2013 escalated to a major confrontation between protesters and the government, resulting in bloodshed and loss of life earlier this month.

An uneasy peace now prevails with many of the protesters remaining camped in Kreschatych Street and Independence Square, the Maidan as it is now known.

Over the course of the past week tensions rose in other parts of the Ukraine, including Lviv, Kharkiv and Donetsk. Over the past 48 hours there have been further developments in Crimea where we have two corps, Simferopol and Yalta. These developments are causing great concern. In addition, and as a result of the recent happenings, the Ukraine currency, the Hyrvnia has decreased in value by 25 percent leaving the country in financial turmoil.

Daily assessments of the situation in Ukraine have, and will continue to be made by Salvation Army leadership. There is no lack of desire for The Salvation Army to be visible but we are an international movement and in this situation we have to consider the effect our involvement might have on the wider work of the Army in Ukraine and indeed the Eastern Europe Territory. This should not stop us helping people in their time of need, of course, but we have to be wise in all our decisions and dealings.

My wife and I, representing the Army as Ukraine divisional leaders, have regularly prayer-walked the areas of conflict in Kiev and ministered to some of the people who have suffered the loss of friends. We have made it known that The Salvation Army is available to help the victims of the current situation whether protestors or representatives of the regime, practically, emotionally and spiritually.

Currently we are considering a specific invitation to provide counseling to the bereaved and those suffering psychological problems as a result of the happenings in Kiev but resources of people, equipment and finance are limited. We will however continue to monitor developments closely over the coming days and seek to respond appropriately.

We live in a time of tremendous social upheaval and uncertainty. How it will all turn out is beyond any of us to guess, let alone know, but in Scripture we read: “If my people, who are called by my name,” will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14).

We believe the healing has already begun but there is still a long way to go before Ukraine is healthy and strong, so please remain steadfast in your prayers for the restoration of this great nation.

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