Death Toll Rises in Ukraine, Christians Targeted as Violence Continues

( [email protected] ) Jul 01, 2014 04:46 PM EDT
The bloodshed continues in Eastern Ukraine, as pro-Russian rebels continue to target Christians within the country, viewing them as government supporters following the ousting of President Yanukovych. Missionaries in the country urge Christians around the world to pray, as locals daily fear for their lives.
Violence continues to escalate in Ukraine as rebel forces refuse to accept offers of peace from the government AP

Persecution of Christians continues to rage on Ukraine, as Catholic and Protestant Christians have been targeted by pro-Russian rebels who view them as government supporters following the ousting President Viktor Yanukovych in April.

Bosnewslife reports that earlier this week, two Protestant churches in the town of Gorlovka in eastern Ukraine were broken into and vandalized by armed separatists, who also threatened church members.

"Separatists, armed with machine guns, forced their way into the Next Generation Church in Gorlovka," a strategic town in the east, stated Russian Ministries President Sergey Rakhuba.

"They destroyed the offices, forbade further worship services to be held in the church, and declared that they would find and destroy all similar churches."

He continued, "Church members now fear for their lives."

And, it doesn't appear the violence will end anytime soon. In June, President Petro Poroshenko called for a ceasefire between the conflicting groups, offering peaceful dialogue and immunity from prosecution to "those who don't have blood on their hands".

However, a rebel spokesmen in the Donetsk People's Republic, which has declared independence from Ukraine and wants to unite with neighboring Russia, told Reuters the fight would continue, as rebel forces refused to surrender.

"What they really want is one-sided disarmament and for us to surrender. That will never happen," said a top separatist official, Fyodor Berezin. "As long as Ukrainian troops are on our soil, I can see that all Poroshenko wants is subjugation," he told NBC.

Pastor Vladmir, a missionary pastor serving in Eastern Ukraine, says rebel force's refusal to compromise marks a serious setback for Christians within the country. He also revealed that conditions continue to worsen within in the country as the civil war continues to rage.

"After I returned home from the Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists Congress in Kiev, the week that followed was very stressful for many. We had very intense shelling by the militants. Several buildings were destroyed and 13 people were killed. For 24 hours there was no electricity in our city. No water, no telephone, and no communication. There was major small arms fire and shelling of the airport. As well as of local factories."

Vladmir encourages Christians to pray for those persecuted in Ukraine, and that peace will descend on the country.

"The local people are terrified because they don't know where the next shell will fall. Although the shooting was targeted at the areas near factories, shrapnel from the exploded shells managed to reach some residential areas. People are in a panic because a shell can fall from anywhere. Please keep praying for us, and that peace will return to Ukraine!"