'About 400' Ukrainian Baptist Churches Lost following Russian Invasion

Milton Quintanilla | Contributor for ChristianHeadlines.com | Wednesday, August 17, 2022
'About 400' Ukrainian Baptist Churches Lost following Russian Invasion

'About 400' Ukrainian Baptist Churches Lost following Russian Invasion

Ukrainian Baptist Theological Seminary President Yaroslav Pyzh says that about 400 Baptist churches have vanished during the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.

“Since the war started, six months already, we lost about 400 Baptist churches. And so the real build is the rebuilding of leadership capacity, because if you rebuild buildings and you have no pastors to lead churches, I don’t think it’s going to do any good,” Pyzh told the Baptist Press on August 12. “So the real challenge is not so much rebuilding walls and windows and doors.

“The real challenge is similar to Nehemiah’s challenge,” he noted, pointing to the Old Testament story of Nehemiah. “It’s not only rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. It’s rebuilding the nation of Israel, of worshiping God. … That’s the same thing here in Ukraine.”

According to the All-Ukrainian Union of Churches of Evangelical Christian Baptists, there were about 2,300 Baptist congregations in Ukraine before the Russian invasion in February. Pyzh, a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, told the Baptist Press that many pastors have been displaced due to the military conflict.

“Our main challenge in the future, when the war will be over, is to bridge the gap in leadership that we lost,” he said. “And sadly, the longer the war goes, the more the gap’s going to be. The church is not buildings. It’s people leaving that place and relocating to the United States, and with people relocating to Germany, or people relocating to other places. And with those people, pastors left too.”

Pyzh, the founding pastor of Journey Church in Lviv, shared that pastors and churches who have remained in Ukraine have coordinated to provide relief and hope to those affected by the war.

“The biggest thing the community has in these moments of being destroyed and bombed is fear; it’s hopelessness,” he said. “And the only one who can relieve and bring hope to the hopeless are pastors, churches, Christians.”

Pyzh shared that around 150 UBTS alumni and students are working at We Care Centers to help rebuild war-torn communities in Ukraine. He also noted, however, that donations to the humanitarian relief centers have fallen off as the war rages on.

“We’ve stepped in and tried to help them be more effective in what they do and actually sharing some of the resources that we’ve received from Southern Baptists. So we’re using these resources that we’ve received from Southern Baptists,” he said. “Instead of the seminary directly dealing with humanitarian relief (as in the initial months of the war), we work with these care centers and help them.”

“The basic idea of care centers is to provide a platform for churches to cooperate with each other to serve the community,” he continued. “It’s not only responding to the needs of the war, but actually creating something that can stay within the community for a long time.”

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Jakub Laichter

Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.

'About 400' Ukrainian Baptist Churches Lost following Russian Invasion