For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him but to suffer for His sake. (Philippians 1:29)
When Russian forces invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, communities in eastern Ukraine were some of the first to be targeted by the Russian invaders.
Balakliya, a city in the Kharkiv region, was one of these cities that fell into the hands of the invaders and was occupied for more than six months until its liberation on September 8.
Just one year ago, our READ team was in Balakliya, at the Light of the Gospel Church, which hosted a READ-funded extension campus of the Kremenchuk Evangelical Seminary (KES). Once Balakliya fell to the Russians, the pastor of this church was taken by occupying soldiers, threatened, and severely beaten. Eventually, he was released, but he was physically and mentally damaged.
In September, when the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) were driving out the Russian forces of the occupied territories in the eastern regions of Ukraine, evidence of their crimes against Ukrainian civilians - like the pastor of the Light of the Gospel Church - was uncovered. Once the AFU retook Balakliya, they found the headquarters of the Russian occupiers and discovered that it also housed a prison and place of torture.
But in this place of torture, an unforgettable scene was also revealed. Scratched on the wall of this dungeon was a message meant to give help and hope to those who suffered there.
The message began with the words, Our Father, and concluded with Amen.
Please Pray for the Church and the READ-funded Seminary Students From Balakliya