Ukraine
November 11-12
Europe


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GEOGRAPHY

Area 603,700 sq.km. A flat, fertile, forested plain with few natural boundaries.

Population Ann.Gr. Density
2000 50,455,980 -0.38% 84 per sq. km.
2010 48,723,593 -0.33% 81 per sq. km.
2025 45,687,963 -0.50% 76 per sq. km.

Capital Kyiv (Kiev) 3.35 mill. Other major cities: Donets'k 2.15m; Kharkiv 2.0m; Dnipropetrovs'k 1.6m; Odessa 1.13m. Urbanites 68%.

PEOPLES

Widespread inter-marriage of Ukrainians and Russians blurs ethnic divisions.

Indo-European 97.7%.

Slav 96.1%. Ukrainian 34.5m; Russian 13.2m; Belarusian 420,000; Bulgarian 222,000; Polish 210,000.

Other 1.6%. Moldavian/Romanian 445,000; Greek 95,000; German 55,000; Armenian 52,000; Roma (Gypsy) 47,000; Georgian 24,000.

Turkic/Altaic 1.2%. Crimean Tatar 300,000; Tatar 95,000.

Other 1.1%. Jews 410,000; Hungarian 176,000.

Literacy 99%. Official language Ukrainian, but Russian widely spoken. All languages 8. Languages with Scripture 3Bi 1NT 1por 1wip.

ECONOMY

Rich in natural resources. Reserves of coal, iron ore, oil and natural gas. Agricultural production is one of the world's highest. Reform packages have halted the hyper-inflation of the early 1990s. The nation is finally beginning to climb out of its post-Communist economic disaster, but not without cost. Living standards have generally declined, corruption is rampant, debts to the World Bank/IMF are massive and energy payments to Russia are in arrears. HDI 0.721; 91st/174. Public debt 13% of GNP. Income/person $1,040 (3.3% of USA).

POLITICS

For centuries Ukraine was dominated and fought over by a succession of powers. Independence was declared in 1991, but many want to revive closer associations with Russia – an issue that will long remain central to Ukrainian politics. When the Communist Party was banned, its leaders metamorphosed into nationalists, but the old state apparatus and bureaucracy was transplanted into the multi-party democratic system. The failure thus far of democratic mechanisms to achieve economic reform has caused many to remember nostalgically the Communist era.

RELIGION

The Church was severely persecuted under Communism. Freedom of religion since 1990, but there are somewhat restrictive conditions for non-traditional groups. Persecution index 78th in the world.

Religions Population % Adherents Ann.Gr.
Christian 88.12 44,461,810 +0.9%
non-Religious 10.56 5,328,151 -8.0%
Jewish 0.75 378,420 -3.9%
Muslim 0.45 227,052 -0.8%
Other 0.12 60,547 +14.0%

Christians Denom. Affil.% ,000 Ann.Gr.
Protestant 41 3.00 1,511 +2.6%
Independent 16 1.21 611 +3.0%
Catholic 2 11.79 5,950 +1.8%
Orthodox 6 62.71 31,640 +0.7%
Marginal 4 0.51 259 +15.1%
Unaffiliated   8.90 4,490 n.a.

Churches MegaBloc Cong. Members Affiliates
Ukrainian Orthodox [2] O 7,900 21,379,310 31,000,000
Eastern-rite Catholic C 3,200 3,496,503 5,000,000
Latin-rite Catholic C 500 620,000 950,000
Autocephalous Orth [3] O 1,200 389,610 600,000
Old Believers I 72 284,431 475,000
Ev Chr & Baptists [3] P 2,236 127,000 380,000
Evangelical Pente Union P 1,200 120,000 370,000
Jehovah's Witnesses M 800 113,000 252,000
Unregis. Pentecostal P 530 130,000 250,000
Seventh-day Adventist [2] P 713 59,263 136,000
Reformed P 95 19,500 130,000
Indep Pente Union [5] P 239 30,000 100,000
Charismatic groups [6] I 300 29,940 50,000
Lutheran P 30 25,974 40,000
Unregistered Baptist P 90 9,200 24,000
Church of God (Clev) P 26 5,784 12,000
Latter-day Saints (Morm) M 60 3,000 7,000
Other denoms [35]   329 117,800 195,600
Total Christians [67]   19,520 26,960,000 39,972,000

Trans-bloc Groupings pop. % ,000 Ann.Gr.
Evangelical

2.7

1,358 +3.3%
Charismatic

1.7

854 +3.7%
  Pentecostal

1.6

787 +3.8%

Missionaries from Ukraine
P,I,A 906 in 16 agencies to 10 countries: Ukraine 530, Russia 359.

Missionaries to Ukraine
P,I,A 463 in 70 agencies from 22 countries: USA 340, Canada 19, South Africa 17, Germany 12, Australia 11.



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Answers to Prayer

1 Praise the Lord for the rich Christian heritage of Ukraine. This was the Bible belt of the Soviet sphere, with half of the former USSR's Baptists and Pentecostals. Since independence evangelical churches have nearly doubled, despite difficult conditions. Pray that these congregations might continue to multiply and mature.

2 Praise God for the emergence of many dynamic and visionary Ukrainian mission agencies who minister both at home and all over the former Soviet Union.

Challenges for Prayer

1 The aftermaths of both independence and the Chernobyl disaster still have tragic impact on Ukrainians. Poverty, rather than riches, has been the outcome of freedom for many. Strict reform measures combined with rampant corruption is only likely to intensify the problem. The vacuum left by Communism's demise has often been filled with violent crime, breakdown in family structures and sexual immorality. In addition, radiation pollution from Chernobyl still affects huge swathes of the country. The consequent weakening of immune systems, combined with a rapidly spreading AIDS virus could do incalculable damage to an already shrinking population. Pray that amidst the darkness, many would seek the Light.

2 Ukraine is a key state, a spiritual bridge between east and west, Orthodox and Catholic. Kyiv was where Slavic Christianity was born 1,000 years ago. Most Ukrainians are of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Many others are of the Greek or Uniate Catholic Church, which follows the Orthodox liturgy and structure but accepts the leadership of the Pope. The Orthodox Church is torn by strife as factions proclaim loyalty to competing patriarchs based in Kyiv and Moscow. The Autocephalous Orthodox Church (until recently banned, and still not formally registered) condemns them both for compliance with the Communists, but is itself beset with schisms. All these groups compete for the reclamation of buildings seized by the Communists. Much superstition and superficiality exist, but there is also a spiritual minority with a love for the Scriptures. Pray that spiritual life and renewal rather than power-politics may govern structures and relationships within these large bodies.

3 Ukraine has a strong Christian heritage, but suffering under Communism was severe. Evangelical Christians have emerged stronger and more numerous from 130 years of unrelenting persecution in which millions of Christians were killed. Pray that full freedom of religion for all groups may be enshrined in the constitution, practised by the state, and fully utilised by believers. Pray that the church might adjust to a new context, and meet its challenges boldly. Among these are:

a) The need for full restoration and reconciliation. The era of Communist persecution is over but the scars of intimidation, manipulation and betrayal are not entirely healed. Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant Churches all face this. Pray for firmness, fairness and forgiveness in handling all who compromised. Pray that those who did not bend might now demonstrate flexibility in church structure, and in enabling congregations to be outward looking rather than insular.

b) Lack of unity. Communist subterfuge brought division and chaos between registered and unregistered congregations of nearly all denominations. Since 1990, disputes have come into the open. These issues have been recognised by Ukrainian Christians and are being addressed. Pray for removal of prejudice, mistrust, personality clashes, and structures that prevent fellowship and promote competition - especially in tapping Western funds and aid.

c) The lack of resources for maximising the present harvest. Most evangelical denominations are growing rapidly, hampered only by an inability to erect buildings and train leaders. Due to the economic situation church buildings, discipleship materials, disciplers and basic equipment are in short supply. Pray that the kingdom of God's growth would not be stunted by simple financial needs.

d) Religious freedom is somewhat threatened by the entrenched religious hierarchy and by government actions taken to limit the expansion of cults and sects. Registering churches or missions can be a very difficult and delicate process. Pray for wisdom and the right combination of discretion and boldness on the part of Christian workers.

4 Good, spiritual, theological training is a great need. Many have benefited from theological education since 1989, but with many more churches beginning or waiting for pastors, the need is as urgent as ever. Thousands of students have been trained in dozens of seminaries, Bible schools and institutes. Over 10,000 have taken the Life in Christ Correspondence Course. Resources are the greatest challenge to Christian educators - the lack of trained teachers is overshadowed by the lack of textbooks, facilities and funding for the students themselves. Western agencies are proving invaluable in this area, particularly SGA, but also Calvary Chapel Mission to the Ukraine, GEM and Baptist and Pentecostal groups. Pray for wise, helpful co-labouring with expatriate partners to raise up many trained Christian leaders for Ukraine and all the former USSR. Pray also for openings and support in ministry for those who graduate.

5 Expatriate agencies. Some such as Light in the East, SGA and many others faithfully served the persecuted church before 1989 and continue to do so. Hundreds of others have flocked in to the country since then, but all too often with great insensitivity to the local situation, a lack of long-term commitment and unhealthy attitudes about money and “sponsorship”. Pray for more long-term workers who will learn the language and culture to better serve the Ukrainian Church in Bible teaching and in modelling a Christian life style in family and ministry. The most effective missions are often those who facilitate the growing Ukrainian mission effort through consultation and troubleshooting.

6 Indigenous agencies. There are now hundreds of Ukrainian agencies working in evangelism, literature, with prisoners, in summer camps and schools, and especially in much needed humanitarian work such as hospitals, orphanages and soup kitchens. Pentecostals and Baptists minister in many ways both in Ukraine and by sending missionaries to other former Soviet states, as do Missionary Brotherhood (LITE) and Light of the Gospel Mission. Pray for the burgeoning Ukrainian missionary movement - may the Lord prosper their work and may Western groups truly serve them selflessly.

7 Outreach challenges:

a) Students. CoMission, CCX(IFES), CCCI and others have developed campus ministries, and student groups are multiplying. CCX has groups meeting in 15 different cities, and most student missions have a healthy mix of expatriate and national workers. Summer camps (often held in former Communist Youth facilities) have proved fruitful. Pray that the right strategies and structures might help to evangelize this post-Soviet generation.

b) Crimea. This highly russified region differs from the rest of Ukraine, with continuing Communist sentiment and interest in reunification with Russia. Yet over 250,000 exiled Crimean Tatars have been welcomed back from Stalin-era exile in Central Asia. There are only a handful of Tatar Christians, and very few evangelical churches in the whole region. There are several Slavic and Western missions seeking to reach them. Openness increased after public apologies by Christians for their ill treatment and exile. The New Testament is being translated. Pray a Tatar Church into being.

c) Ukrainian Jews. Many have emigrated to Israel and the West and the population continues to drop by 10% annually. Chosen People Ministries have seen fruit in outreach to them. There are dozens of Messianic synagogues, and a Messianic Bible school.

d) The eastern part of the country has much less of an evangelical presence than the western part, and is in more need of missionaries. There are still 20,000 villages and towns without an evangelical church in Ukraine.

e) Cults, in particular Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons and eastern mystical groups, are gaining many converts. Pagan revival movements such as RUNVira and the Perunists also pose a challenge. Churches must realise that they are competing with these groups for the souls of Ukrainians. There are two apologetics and research centres whose goal is to promote greater discernment among Christians and encourage outreach to cult followers.

8 Christian media ministries for prayer:

a) Bible ministries. The Ukrainian Bible Society (UBS) was restarted in 1991. Many realise the need of the Bible for restoration of moral and absolute values in society. The UBS has a unique and strategic ministry in that it is welcomed in the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. There are far more opportunities than there is finance - pray for the Lord's limitless provision to be released.

b) Literature. There is a great need for Christian literature in Ukrainian. Russian literature is much more plentiful and Ukrainian therefore ignored by publishers. EHC has distributed over 6 million pieces of literature through the Ukrainian churches.

c) Radio and television. These are open for Christian programmes. CBN have a major television network based in Kyiv. HCJB (with CMAssociates), FEBC and TWR all broadcast several hours a week in Ukrainian with good repsonse. Even more hours are broadcast in Russian. One hour a week is broadcast in Tatar on shortwave. There is also a need for Christian television programmes.

d) The JESUS film is shown in Hungarian, Romanian, Russian and Ukrainian.

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