US Baptists Urge House Speaker Johnson to Take Action As Russia Tortures Evangelical Christians

More than two years into the Russia-Ukraine war, evangelical Christians in Ukraine continue to face  torture, having their places of worship shut down, and experiencing other horrors at the hands of Russian soldiers, according to a letter Southern Baptist leaders wrote to House Speaker Mike Johnson.

The letter, signed by Daniel Darling from the Land Center for Cultural Engagement at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Richard Land, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), and Ukrainian church leaders, calls attention to the atrocities committed by Russian soldiers against Christians in the region.

Despite attempts by the Russian government to depict Ukraine as intolerant towards Christians, the letter highlights the reality of peaceful, law-abiding Christians suffering at the hands of Russian forces in occupied areas. The letter comes amidst discussions regarding a $95 billion aid package for Ukraine, awaiting approval in the House of Representatives after being passed in the Senate earlier this year.

House Speaker Johnson, who faces pressure from conservative factions opposing the funding package, has been urged to consider the plight of Christians in Ukraine. The letter underscores the urgent need for support as evangelical and Baptist churches face suppression and destruction in Russian-occupied territories. It recounts instances of armed soldiers disrupting church services and threatening pastors, leading to the closure of numerous churches and the persecution of their members.

Pastor Mikhaylo Brytsyn of Grace Evangelical Church recounted a harrowing encounter with armed soldiers during a Sunday service, illustrating the ongoing intimidation faced by pastors and congregants alike. With churches destroyed and members interrogated and tortured, the letter paints a grim picture of religious persecution under Russian rule.

In response, Ukrainian pastors have resorted to leading underground churches in private homes to evade detection and ensure the safety of their congregants. The letter urges Speaker Johnson to intervene and provide assistance to Ukrainian pastors and their communities, emphasizing the need for a peace founded on principles of justice.

As the conflict in Ukraine persists, the church remains steadfast in its support for the people and the nation. Pastor Andrii Skantsev emphasized the importance of remaining in the conflict zone to provide help and support to those in need. Southern Baptist leaders express their appreciation for Speaker Johnson’s leadership while calling for action to uphold justice and support the persecuted Christians in Ukraine.

Earlier that year, Russian soldiers all but destroyed Sergeev’s church. According to the letter written to Johnson, fellow members of his church were “interrogated and tortured.”

“As of this moment there is not a single Baptist church left in Melitopol,” the letter explains.

Both Sergeev and Brytsyn now led underground churches in private homes because of fear of angering the Russian regime.

“They start to fingerprint everybody. They copied their I.D., make pictures, addresses,” Brytsyn explained. “We were accused of being an extremist organization. We were accused of being German spies and then American spies.”

As CBN News recently reported, the daily bombardment of Ukraine continues as the church there stands in the gap for its people and nation.

“Those people who decided to stay in this conflict zone are asking for help, and being here is extremely important,” Pastor Andrii Skantsev told CBN News. “And to remain here is probably what it means to be a Christian, to show Jesus Christ.”

Meanwhile, Baptist leaders are asking for Johnson to step in to assist Ukrainian pastors.

“We believe that God has put you in this position ‘for such a time as this,'” the leaders wrote to the Speaker.

“We desire peace. But more than that, we desire a peace that is based on the principles of justice,” it continues. “Our God is both perfectly just and the author of perfect peace.”

“We appreciate your leadership, are praying for your wisdom and courage as you consider support for Ukraine,” the document concluded.


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