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ALL IS NOT LOST: RUSSIA AND UKRAINE CAN BE HEALED
by Cory Bender, Christianity Today

fratricidal war in Ukraine (29 Jan) Churches are indispensible to lasting peace in the region. Scholar Mark Elliot’s recent online article describes a Christian community fractured by war. In Ukraine and Russia, evangelicals, Orthodox, Catholics, and others have broken fellowship with each other. They are, in his words, “elevating loyalty to a fatherland over loyalty to God the Father”—that is, they are not striving for peace with everyone, but are allowing a “root of bitterness” to spring up and cause trouble.

This root is old and deep. Ukraine lies on a geopolitical, cultural, and religious fault line that goes back centuries, and even though the current crisis started for geopolitical reasons, religion plays a key supporting role. Since the beginning of the crisis last year, churches of every denomination have been drafted into the fight, with each side using biblical language to justify its actions and demonize the other. These churches provide a veneer of virtue and moral authority that the governments themselves could not muster.

It is precisely for this reason, however, that the churches of Russia and Ukraine will be indispensable to any lasting peace. A peace treaty, if it ever comes, might stop the fighting, but only the church can address the enmity, division, and brokenness caused by the war. This won’t come naturally to most churches in Russia and Ukraine. Many priests and pastors see themselves as responsible for what happens within the four walls of their church — and nothing else. This deeply-embedded isolationism — a legacy of the Soviet period — makes it nearly impossible for the church to engage society during a time of crisis. [read more...]


CRIMEA: "SUBJECT TO ACTION BY THE LAW-ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES"
by Felix Corley, Forum 18 News Service

(26 Jan) The two and a half month moratorium on prosecutions for religious and other literature the Russian authorities regard as "extremist" - declared by Sergei Aksyonov, head of Crimea's Russian-backed government - expired at the end of 2014. "Sergei Aksyonov gave people the opportunity to hand in such literature," his spokesperson Yekaterina Polonchuk told Forum 18 News Service from the Crimean capital Simferopol on 21 January. "Those who didn't will be subject to action by the law-enforcement agencies." But, she added, "people don't need to fear if they abide by the law."

Forum 18 asked Polonchuk in writing the same day whether Aksyonov had issued any instructions to the Prosecutor's Office, FSB security service or the police following the end of the moratorium, and whether the widespread resumption of raids, religious literature seizures and fines should be expected. No response had arrived by the end of the working day in Simferopol on 26 January. Although raids, literature seizures and administrative fines for religious books the Russian authorities regard as "extremist" seem to have reduced during the moratorium, they did not stop. However, now the moratorium is ended, it remains unclear if such raids, fines and confiscations will resume. [read more...]


RUSSIA CALLS FOR INQUIRY INTO BABI YAR CHURCH ARSON
from Interfax-Religion

(27 Jan) The people responsible for torching a church on the grounds of the Babi Yar national and historic memorial in Kiev must be held to justice, Moscow says. "We demand a most thorough inquiry into the crime and a strict punishment for those responsible," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a commentary.

"The Russian Foreign Ministry is outraged by yet another provocation staged by the Ukrainian nationalists against a church of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church on the ground of the Babi Yar National Historical Memorial Reserve. This is not the first attack by Ukraine's nationalist forces on the religious shrines, carried out with full connivance of the government in Kiev," the commentary said. [read more...]


CRIMEA: CONVENT CLOSED FOLLOWING NUNS' FORCED DEPARTURE
by Felix Corley, Forum 18 News Service

(20 Jan) Almost 18 years after it was founded, a small Catholic convent in Crimea's capital Simferopol was forced to close down in November 2014 when its three Franciscan nuns had to leave. They were refused the possibility of extending their residence permits in Crimea, the chancellor of the Odessa and Simferopol Catholic diocese Fr Krzysztof Kontek told Forum 18 News Service from the Ukrainian city of Odessa on 15 January 2015. The sisters - who are from elsewhere in Ukraine and Poland - had been helping in pastoral work in the city's Catholic parish. Their forced departure came a month after the parish's main priest was similarly forced to leave.

Officials from the Crimean branch of Russia's Federal Migration Service insisted to Forum 18 in October 2014 that only registered religious communities are able to invite foreign citizens. As no religious community in Crimea or Sevastopol (an administratively separate city) has state registration recognised by the Russian authorities, no community is thus able to invite foreign religious workers. [read more...]


MONKS OFFER UKRAINIAN SOLDIERS SPIRITUAL REHABILITATION IN UGCC MONASTERIES
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine

(30 Jan) The soldiers of the Ukrainian Army, especially those who sustained wounds or survived through the hell of captivity can regain spiritual balance or improve their health condition, staying for a few days in the monasteries of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. The monks offer spiritual rehabilitation of soldiers in silence and prayer, Radio Liberty reports.

Spiritual renewal includes a three-day training, prayer, meditation on the Holy Scriptures. These retreats take place in monasteries near Lviv and in Hoshivskyy monastery of Ivano-Frankivsk. Silence and prayer in the monastery are what fighters now need the most, the monks believe. Many soldiers find it is difficult to overcome stress, nightmares. They try to explain to themselves why they had to take up arms and experience killing enemies who might have taken their lives. The vast majority of soldiers were not prepared for war. [read more...]


MOSCOW COULD CLOSE ALL CATHOLIC PARISHES IN CRIMEA IF REGISTRATION VETOED
from Ecumenical News

(28 Jan) The Roman Catholic Church in Crimea is facing closure should it fail to comply with religious regulations set by Russia, a Catholic news agency reports. In an interview with Polish Radio, a top church official in the region said he hopes to get the approval from Moscow on a second attempt to have the Catholic churches in the peninsula registered, asianews.it reported. "Today we sent the documents to Moscow and are waiting for answers," said Auxiliary Bishop Jacek Pyl of the Roman Catholic diocese of Odessa and Simferopol in an interview on January 21. The diocese covers Odessa which is part of mainland Ukraine while Simferopol is in Crimea.

Pyl nonetheless remains optimistic about the likelihood of having the diocese's documents approved by Russian authorities. After Crimea's annexation into Russia, the Catholic Church in Odessa sent pertinent documents to Moscow in an effort to have the church registered under the Russian government. But the registration had been denied because parts of the forms were written in Ukrainian. All churches in Crimea must be registered with Moscow by March. As part of the requirements, at least 10 of its parishioners must have Russian passports. Only after the recognition from Russia will follow the registration of parishes in Crimea, where there are currently seven Catholic parishes. [read more...]


OTHER NEWS HEADLINES:

TAJIKISTAN: PROTESTANT CHURCHES WARNED NOT TO ALLOW CHILDREN AT WORSHIP MEETINGS
from
Forum 18 News Service

UKRAINIAN REBELS PERSECUTE ALL CHURCHES EXCEPT MOSCOW ORTHODOX
from
Religious Information Service of Ukraine

RUSSIANS FIND PUBLICATION OF BLASPHEMOUS CARTOONS UNACCEPTABLE - POLL
from
Interfax-Religion

STATEMENT OF THE INTER-RELIGIOUS COUNCIL IN RUSSIA ON FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND INSULT ON THE FEELINGS OF BELIEVERS
from
Russian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate

BLOG: "PUTIN'S OTHODOX JIHAD"
from
Religious Information Service of Ukraine

TOP TEN MINISTRY HIGHLIGHTS FOR 2014
from
Russian Ministries

RUSSIAN PATRIARCH SEEKS ABORTION BAN IN PARLIAMENT SPEECH
from
Russia Today

See HOSKEN-NEWS Daily for more of the latest news!


NOW, OUR VIEWS:

The fighting in eastern Ukraine, especially around Donetsk and Mariupol, has seen a pronounced increase in the last week or so. Russia and its proxies the Ukrainian separatists have been increasingly using multiple rocket launchers and heavy artillery, causing many civilian deaths. This may be a preursor to an upcoming effort to capture Mariupol and form a land bridge from Russia to Crimea, or it may be just a bargaining chip for future peace negotiations. As our first news article ALL IS NOT LOST: RUSSIA AND UKRAINE CAN BE HEALED explains, the churches in both Ukraine and Russia are indispensible to bring about a lasting peace in the region. But time may be running out before this conflict explodes into a continent-wide war. Pray for peace in Ukraine!

Meanwhile, we are witnessing the russification of eastern Ukraine and Crimea: our news articles CRIMEA: CONVENT CLOSED FOLLOWING NUNS' FORCED DEPARTURE and MOSCOW COULD CLOSE ALL CATHOLIC PARISHES IN CRIMEA IF REGISTRATION VETOED as well as the news headline UKRAINIAN REBELS PERSECUTE ALL CHURCHES EXCEPT MOSCOW ORTHODOX indicate Russia's efforts to bring all churches under its control and enforce the use of the Russian language instead of Ukrainian. This is nothing short of cultural genocide, the forced removal of anything and anyone who resists being russified.


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For a daily reminder to pray for the items below, go to My Daily Prayer Guide and click on the "H-N pr." link!


Prayer and Praise:

Sun. - Pray that Ukrainian and Russian churches will take the lead in bringing about a resolution to the conflict.
Mon. - Ask the Lord to stop the confiscation of religious literature considered to be "extremist" in Crimea.
Tue. - Pray that people who torched a church at the Babi Yar WWII genocide memorial in Kyiv will be apprehended.
Wed. - Ask God that religious workers of Crimea will be able to return after their organizations are registered.
Thu. - Thank the Lord that monks are providing spiritual rehabilitation to Ukrainian soldiers traumatized by war.
Fri. - Pray that the registration of the Catholic diocese and other churches in Crimea will be successful.
Sat. - Thank the Lord that we are saved by God's grace through a living faith that produces good works!

Who Are We? / Map of former USSR   Please remember to pray for Christians in the former Soviet bloc countries, and for...

  Your fellow-servants,

  Bob & Cheryl

 
p.s. Due to budget cuts, the light at the end of the tunnel is being turned off.