Some months ago, I accepted a request to share the Word of God with the Ukrainian church in London. The appointment coincidentally fell on Sabbath 5 March, just several days into the current conflict in Ukraine.
As the conflict has escalated, the world's focus has been on dealing with the injustices happening in that country. And while we witness the tremendous humanitarian work carried out by charities (including ADRA) in the bordering countries of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Moldova and Romania, the London Ukrainian Adventist church has continued to meet for worship at a quiet location in West London.
Our fellow members were in a sombre mood, and one can notice anxiety and concern for their friends and loved ones back home etched across their faces. Most of the members comprised young adults and couples, many of whom arrived several years ago and more recently. Their church minister, Pastor Vasyl Vartsaba, confirmed that the group could number as much as 160 on Sabbaths and continues to grow.
The sermon (language translation was on hand) focused on positive and negative emotions. It also considered adversity and how God intervenes by relating it to the story of Esther. The message further touched on the role of faith, belief, and relationship with God, as demonstrated by the little maid in the Naaman story, by pointing out that God needs to be the central focus in our lives in such challenging times.
Much of the Sabbath service was spent in prayer, soul-searching through appropriately chosen songs and instrumental pieces by the immensely talented congregation. After a short refreshment interlude, the afternoon programme continued with more time spent in prayer. Feeding back thoughts from their compatriots in Ukraine, they said that their contacts in Ukraine "could feel the prayers and love coming through every day from the members here" as they continue with the struggles across the Ukraine territory at this time.
As their Ukrainian compatriots begin to gain entry to Britain, this church will continue to grow and become a pivotal point for support for those Ukrainians so unjustly dislocated from their once normal lives.
The Ukrainian church is a grieving congregation and a hurting people. They require all our prayers and support at this time. The avenues to donate to Ukraine's needy have already been published, including through ADRA – they are currently providing much-needed support in Dnipro, Lviv, Mukachevo, Uzhgorod, Kyiv Chernivtsi, Vinnytsya, Cherkasy, Mykolaiv and Odesa.
But most of all, they need our continual prayers. Perhaps you may want to drop in to support them on a Sabbath and join in their prayer times. They currently worship at St John's Church, 152 Lansdowne Crescent, Notting Hill, W11 2NN at 2:00 pm.
As we speak, Pastor Vartsaba and some members are driving to Ukraine to deliver much-needed essential supplies to the needy and those suffering there. Our earnest prayers go with him and his team at this time for their safe return.