The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:9-10
The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has brought immense suffering to the Ukrainian nation. So many reports have reached us all of the terrible cost of this outrageous and cruel war.
But what you might not be fully aware of is the fact that this conflict has led to the persecution and oppression of evangelical leaders and believers in Ukraine by the Russian forces and those supportive of the invasion.
During this last year in the occupied areas of Ukraine, evangelical pastors have been arrested, interrogated, tortured and even expelled from their towns.
Church buildings have been confiscated and used for purposes that fit the agenda of the occupying forces. Christians have received harsher treatment at Russian military checkpoints.
Right now, evangelical Christians living in both the occupied and contested areas of Ukraine are experiencing severe oppression and fighting for their survival.
And our brothers and sisters in Christ who are sharing the Gospel and serving those who are suffering while risking their own lives need our help.
Will you make a gift today to Release International’s mission partners in Ukraine and other restricted and hostile places, to help oppressed and persecuted Christians?
Your gift today will enable church leaders like Ivan to provide food, shelter and pastoral care to oppressed Christians. And to share the gospel with non-believers too.
Pastor Ivan’s* story of trusting God in times of trouble
Before the war Pastor Ivan led a growing congregation of over 200 people in a town* in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine. He also supported a thriving network of five evangelical churches in the area.
Last spring when the Russians got close to the town many fled, including lots of families with young children. Only some elderly people remained. Pastor Ivan and his wife Viktoria* stayed behind too.
They felt called by God to serve the elderly and vulnerable people in their occupied town. So, they did what they could to provide food, prayer, and comforting words from the Bible to them.
But the Russian forces responded with brutality and violence.
One day they came to Pastor Ivan’s home and arrested him. They threw him into prison and tortured him, accusing him of being an American spy, just because he was an evangelical pastor.
Enduring their beatings, Pastor Ivan tried to talk about God with them. And, even when he was stuck in a tiny prison cell with eight other people, he prayed for the other prisoners. Two days later the Russian soldiers interrogated him again and beat him badly. This is what Pastor Ivan recalls from what happened to him in May 2022:
“I felt so ill after that second interrogation that I thought I was dying. Other prisoners tried to help me and called for help. The Russians sent me to a hospital, which I believe was divine grace and intervention. I believe God saved my life through the Ukrainian doctors who helped me.”
After two weeks, Pastor Ivan went home where he recovered slowly. And, when the Russian grip on their town began to tighten Pastor Ivan and Viktoria left for Poland.
As soon as the town was liberated by the Ukrainian forces, they returned home.
Thanks to the generosity and kindness of supporters like you they received pastoral care and medical help in Kharkiv region from one of Release International’s mission partners.
Where is Pastor Ivan now?
Right now, Pastor Ivan is leading a congregation with over 300 people, many of whom have not gone to church before. God is using him and others like him to share the gospel and to help people in practical ways in the liberated areas of eastern Ukraine.
Will you join forces with pastors like Ivan in Ukraine and elsewhere who are helping oppressed Christians by giving £30, £50 or even £100 to Release International today?
Here are some of things your generosity and kindness can make possible:
Your gift of £30 could help provide food, shelter and warm clothes for vulnerable oppressed Christians to survive the winter.
Your gift of £50 could help frontline Christian workers like Pastor Ivan in Ukraine, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and many other countries, to serve those who are being oppressed for their faith in Jesus.
Your gift of £100 could help provide heaters and generators for oppressed persecuted Christians who have endured exploitation, humiliation and suffering, simply for their love for Jesus.
We deeply appreciate your prayers, love and support, whatever amount you can give.
Your generous help could lighten the burden of our oppressed brothers and sisters in Christ in Ukraine, India, Malaysia, China, Central Asia and elsewhere. By giving today you can be an answer to their prayers and help them see that God’s love for them knows no bounds.
Thank you so much for caring,
CEO, Release International
* Names have been changed, photographs are from a library; and we are unable to disclose the name of the town in Kharkiv region, for security reasons.