As I write this, the greatest military conflict in Europe since World War II is raging in Ukraine, as fighting with Russian forces continues across a nation the size of Texas, with 44 million people.
It has been a brutal conflict, with thousands killed and many more injured. The bloodshed has led to a humanitarian crisis with more than 3 million refugees fleeing into Poland, Moldova, Romania and other European countries. More than 2 million others have been displaced within Ukraine.
We have been responding in the Name of Jesus Christ. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has been on the ground, sending crisis-trained chaplains to offer spiritual and emotional help and also training pastors and church leaders. Samaritan’s Purse has sent planeloads of relief supplies to the region, including an Emergency Field Hospital and several clinics. There are thousands of churches across Ukraine that we have worked with for many years, and we want to do all we can to help them.
I don’t support war, and I don’t know of any Christian who does. We pray for peace, not war. That’s why I called on churches across our great nation to join in a day of prayer for those caught in the midst of this tragedy. I know God hears and answers our petitions, and we will continue to pray in the days and months to come.
Sadly, this conflict reminds us of the horrific suffering that wars have brought across the global stage for all of history. Think of the world wars, conquests, revolutions and civil wars. Think back to the Old Testament and the rise and fall of vast empires, such as the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Medes and Persians, the Greeks.
For hundreds of years, including when Jesus was on earth, the Romans conquered territory after territory. Then came the Mongols, the Ottomans, the Spanish Conquistadors, and on it goes. Death, destruction, genocide, unspeakable brutality, tyrants, dictators. All the wicked fruit of war and conflict.
“… See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:6-8).
Until Christ returns and sets up His Kingdom on earth, wars will continue unabated. They are but the birth pangs of this present evil age, growing more intense and more frequent, until our triumphant and victorious King of kings comes again to finally banish every vestige of this sin-stained world. Riding on a white horse, with His robe dipped in blood, and the heavenly armies coming with Him. “In righteousness, [Christ] judges and makes war” (Revelation 19:11).
But until then, we are not to be frightened by the uproars and tumult of a world suffering from the evil effects of sin—much less an adversary who seeks to wreak as much havoc as he can until he is defeated once and for all and cast into the lake of fire.
The conflict in Ukraine has unsettled not only our own nation, but the entire world. Economic markets have been rattled. For the first time since the end of the Cold War, Europe is faced with a very real threat from the East. The conflict and fighting have upended the stability and security that Europe has enjoyed for decades.
As devoted followers of Jesus Christ, we can trust that our Sovereign, Omnipotent Lord is in full control of all events, however troubling the circumstances. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes” (Proverbs 21:1). “In the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by” (Psalm 57:1). Our Lord and Savior is ever present with us. “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
While we may be deeply troubled as events unfold, our confidence must rest in our God, who rules over all the affairs of men and nations. Above all, we must pray fervently and frequently. Pray for the Lord to protect the innocents caught in the fighting. Pray for the millions of refugees, mostly women and children, who have fled to surrounding countries for safety. Pray that God will somehow bring peace and a cessation of the conflict. Pray for the churches and believers in Ukraine to remain faithful to the Lord and to continue to speak His truth.
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).
Until the end does come, in God’s perfect timing, I will remain fully committed to proclaiming the saving Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospel is more powerful than armies, mightier than regimes, for it is the only means by which eternal life can be received through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.
There are millions of people in Ukraine who face not just physical death from bombs and missiles but everlasting death because their sins have separated them from a holy God. There are millions of people in Russia who need to personally know the One who has “all power and authority on heaven and earth” and who alone can rescue them from hell.
I preached the Gospel in Ukraine a number of years ago in the capital of Kyiv and in Lviv, two of the largest cities in the country. In the midst of nominal historic religion, evangelistic churches have flourished since the fall of the Soviet Union. I proclaimed the Gospel of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection—and thousands made decisions for Christ. Praise God!
This summer, I am scheduled to hold a Crusade in one of Russia’s most prestigious cities, St. Petersburg, which the Soviets called Leningrad. Please be in prayer for this meeting, that the Holy Spirit would convict many of sin and bring them to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
My father preached several times in the Soviet Union. Some criticized him for going there, since the U.S.S.R. was under authoritarian communist rule and the Cold War was raging. But my father knew that the message of the Gospel was for all people, and the people desperately needed to hear the Good News. In 1992, less than a year after the fall of the Soviet Union, my father preached to more than 155,000 people at Moscow’s Olympic Stadium, where more than 42,000 registered decisions for Jesus Christ. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
These are trying days, but God is sovereign and is working all things together for good (see Romans 8:28). Let us keep our eyes on Jesus and continue to trust Him with all our heart. One day soon, He is coming back and will put right all things wrong.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version.
Photo: Paul Sherar/©2021 BGEA