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RUSSIANS ARREST EVANGELICAL PASTOR IN MARIUPOL, UKRAINE

Urgent call for prayer from Release International’s partner in Kyiv who says the hunt for pastors has begun.

Pictures: Google

Release International’s partner in Kyiv has called for prayer following the arrest by Russian forces of an Evangelical pastor in the besieged city of Mariupol. He reports a hunt for pastors has begun in areas now under Russian control.

‘Pavel’, who was himself a prisoner of faith in the former Soviet Union, has sent a powerful dispatch from the capital of Ukraine, which is currently under fire.

He reports that Russian soldiers have arrested the pastor of the Light of the World Evangelical Church of Mariupol.

Alexsander Glushko seized

The Russian military arrested Alexander Glushko at his house. During a search of his home they found his diploma issued by the Theological Seminary of Ukraine.

He is believed to have been taken to territory previously occupied by Russian troops and imprisoned in Dokuchaevsk, close to Donetsk.

Pastor Alexander’s family has been offered no further information, and his wife has been told she has no right and opportunity to see her husband.

Another pastor of a church near Mariupol reports that he was blacklisted for arrest but managed to escape. Release International’s partner describes that escape as ‘a miracle’.

However, the Evangelical Church building, where that pastor’s family lived, has been confiscated, and church meetings are now impossible.

Pastors hunted

Pavel continues: ‘‘The hunt for the pastors of these churches has now begun in Mariupol and its environs.

‘I believe that many other pastors of Evangelical churches in Ukraine, known for their patriotism, are also included in such a “blacklist”. This is in line with reports published before the invasion of the Russian army that the “physical liquidation of some religious figures in Ukraine” who openly support their government is expected.

‘I ask you to pray fervently for the well-being and safety of the life of Pastor Alexander Glushko. Pray also for the protection of God from the alleged persecution of Evangelical Christians in Ukraine in places where there are fierce battles, as well as in the territories of Ukraine that were previously occupied by Russia.’

Impact of war

Pictures: Google

Pavel goes on to describe the impact of the war in Ukraine, especially upon Mariupol.

‘According to official data, the buildings of Mariupol, including the private houses of residents, schools and hospitals, public buildings and the infrastructure of the city, were 90 per cent destroyed by the Russian army. Pregnant women and children died in the hospital – including children who were not yet born.

‘Super-powerful bombs destroyed the drama theatre in the very centre, as well as a sports complex and swimming pool. In the basements of these buildings were bomb shelters, in which the inhabitants of the city, mostly mothers with their children, hid from the incessant bombardments and rocket attacks.

‘Due to constant shelling, hundreds of people are still in these blocked basements. It is clear there are thousands of such victims throughout Mariupol.

‘Mariupol fights on’

‘Mariupol continues to fight. Fighting is taking place on the streets of the city itself.

Google

‘As for the Christians of Mariupol, most of them have left the city, feeling that difficult times were ahead for Christians, not only because of the war, but due to possible persecution for their Evangelical faith. The majority of Evangelical Ukrainian Christians are patriots and support their government.

‘These fears are not in vain. This has already happened in the territories of eastern Ukraine, which have been occupied by Russian troops since 2014. Evangelical churches were closed, which the occupying authorities accused of being “spies of America and the West”.

‘The evangelical church has existed in Mariupol since 1937. It went through harsh persecution and suffering during the years of the Soviet Union. The church was forced underground for all the years of the Soviet period.

‘Forty brothers were thrown into prisons for testifying about Jesus Christ. Two were shot for their faith, and two more became martyrs. They died in distant Siberian camps, retaining their faith and loyalty to the Lord until their last breath.

‘It seemed to us that such times in free and independent Christian country Ukraine would never happen again. But as a result of air bombardment, shelling by artillery systems and rocket attacks, cities and villages are being destroyed one after another.

‘Thousands of civilians have already died, including the elderly, women, and children. Nuclear power plants have also been seized, which has led to great danger from man-made environmental disasters.

‘Brutality’

Google maps

‘It is difficult to describe the incredible brutality of the treatment of the civilian population of Ukraine by the invading troops of a neighbouring state.’

One Christian in Mariupol has described the destruction of houses under bombardment that belonged to members of the church, including a pastor’s.

He told Release International’s partner that 40 members of one church, including children, are having to live and sleep in a bitterly cold church building, yet still meeting morning and evening to pray and to worship, with many braving the shellfire to walk to the meetings.

Christians sheltering in the church have been drinking water brought from wells in a minibus. They have been cooking over an open fire and sharing their meagre food and water with other hungry Ukrainians who have come in off the streets.

One Christian who died is believed to have passed away because of the constant stress of being under siege. It was not possible for the church to give him a proper funeral. Despite the risks, some Christians have decided to stay in the city.

‘We are truly going through the tragedy of dispersion,’ writes Pavel, ‘like many other people and families in Ukraine. As a local church we have to share the pain of the nation, we are part of it. Thank you for your prayers.’

Please pray for:

The well-being and safety of Pastor Alexander Glushko and for his release. Pray also for his wife and family at this time.

For God’s merciful protection of Evangelical pastors in Ukraine, especially in those territories of Ukraine previously occupied by pro-Russian groups.

For Evangelical Christians in Ukraine: that the Lord will sustain them in their faith and witness amid the current conflict.