Gatherings, held every two months, include prayer time allotted for Ukraine, Russia and Canada.
As we approach Christmas, we consider the profound declaration of the angels to shepherds out in their fields: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests” (Luke 2:14).
The war in Ukraine is a concern for people all around the world. For many Canadians who have strong connections and family ties in Ukraine or Russia, the war is especially painful. For those who love the people and both countries, this conflict is unbearable. God in the highest heaven loves these peoples. By sending His Son into this world where wars rage, God proved that His favour rests with us. Emmanuel. God with us. Where is this peace the angels declared? How do we, with the shepherds, actively receive the wholeness God declared was for all people?
When a situation becomes unbearable, we are called to pray and seek God’s help!
Albina Nikitina, Dave Loewen and Garri Sergienko serve with three different ministries based in Winnipeg that have joined to host a series of Interchurch Prayer Vigils for Peace in Ukraine. All three ministries are committed to helping both Ukrainians and Russians find hope and peace – despite the horrible destruction war has brought.
Albina Nikitina is producer of the show “Ella’s Backyard” at Square One World Media, a ministry that has been sharing the gospel with Slavic people since 1957 and continues to produce Christ-centred media in Russian and Ukrainian languages.
“It is so awful to think about the war that is happening in Ukraine,” she says. “It’s so closely connected to my family in both countries! My mother is Ukrainian, my father is Russian. We have relatives on both sides. It breaks my heart!”
Dave Loewen is the director of Kingdom Ventures Inc. which has been equipping Christian youth camps in the countries of the former Soviet Union since 1991. Today their Christian camp facilities are refugee camps for those fleeing the war.
Garri Sergienko is the national director of Bridges for Peace Canada, an organization providing humanitarian aid and resettlement for Ukrainian and Russian Jews who have been uprooted by the war.
The first three prayer vigils were held at Calvary Temple in Winnipeg in July, September and November. About fifty people attended each event, representing the diversity of the body of Christ: the Slavic Evangelical Church of Winnipeg, Teulon Baptist Church, the Interchurch Filipino Fellowship, and Steinbach Mennonite Brethren Church.
Regardless of their background, each participant shares a passion to gather with other believers to pray for peace, express faith in Almighty God, intercede for both countries, and stand together to ask God to heal the broken-hearted and set the captives free. They know God hears their prayers for His Kingdom to come and for His will to be done in Ukraine, Russia and Canada as it is in heaven.
The prayer vigil is now a regularly scheduled event, meeting every two months. It consists of prayer time allotted for Ukraine, Russia and Canada. Specific prayer requests for each country include:
- For Ukraine – many families are left without electricity or heating and are struggling to survive the winter.
- For Russia – many are confused as they begin to realize they have been deceived about what is really going on. Many are fleeing their country; others are conscripted to the battlefield.
- For Canada – more and more Ukrainian refugees are coming to Canada.
- For the world – we might not be able to see what the future holds, but the Lord is breathing life into the present and future of this planet where God’s favour rests.
Ukrainians, including here in Canada, are hurt and traumatized by what is happening in Ukraine. Some find it difficult to pray. When the burden is so heavy that people can’t even pray, that’s when others need to step in and pray on their behalf – and to keep praying until they begin to feel God lifting the weight. And, God will lift the weight.
This summer, a Ukrainian woman left her home and her husband – a high-ranking military officer – and arrived in Winnipeg with her nine-year-old son and pregnant with a second child. She was welcomed into the home of a Christian Russian woman who also has a son. Despite their home countries being at war and the people they love being in direct conflict, the two mothers have established a loving and secure home together. The Russian woman became the birth coach when the Ukrainian woman's baby was born, and together they are facing the challenges of raising two boys and an infant in an uncertain world. There are more examples like this that prove that God can bring about peace and reconciliation, even when the burdens seem too heavy to bear.
But, there is another challenge for the prayer vigil organizers: it’s hard to gather people to pray! Many people want to come, but only a few actually do.
“It takes courage and personal sacrifice to participate in a prayer vigil,” says Dave Loewen. “God sees that our faith is in Him alone, and that we have no other hope for relief and healing.”
Square One World Media, Kingdom Ventures and Bridges for Peace remind all God’s people of the declaration of the angels. We call for prayer from all who believe the Messiah has come to work peace and reconciliation in the political situations and hearts of the peoples of this world. If you live in Winnipeg, why not join in? If you live elsewhere, you can begin to pray for peace too.
Albina Nikitina is Russian media producer for Square One Media based in Winnipeg. The All Things Reconciled blog series and related podcasts are produced in collaboration with the Peace & Reconciliation Network. Read all the blog posts at FaithToday.ca/AllThingsReconciled.