The war in Ukraine is becoming less prominent in our UK news as the weeks go by. But the horror and trauma is continuing, and Christian students are desperate to grapple with God’s word despite what is happening.
Mark Meynell, Langham Preaching’s coordinator for Europe and the Caribbean, has been training students scattered because of the war how to preach the book of Revelation.
The four sessions, all on Zoom, were for ‘REALIS‘ students. REALIS (the Research Education and Light Centre) is an interdisciplinary centre in Ukraine focusing on public theology. It was set up by Langham Graduate Sergiy Tymchenko, and is similar to the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity (founded by John Stott).
‘It was amazing’
The day before Mark delivered the final training session on 30 July, he said in an interview:
“I think on the call last time there were maybe 25 or 30 attendees. Across the call, I think we had people coming in from Sweden, all the way to Central and maybe Far East Asia. It was amazing.
“We did a Friday evening session, then 8am till 4pm on the Saturday (UK time). We did have breaks! I was very tired. It was all interpreted into Ukrainian.”
The students told Mark that the training had been very helpful, and they asked many questions.
Mark explained how he became involved in delivering this training:
“Since the war started, a lot of the REALIS students have been scattered so they’ve carried on doing as much of their programme as feasible online. They wanted me to do some teaching and I was keen too.
“They’ve been the organising host of our Langham Preaching conferences in Ukraine, and these sessions are very similar to those.
Revelation is relevant
He chose to tackle the book of Revelation because he was teaching on it during a Langham Preaching conference in Hungary, just two weeks after the war began.
“We were only 100 miles from the border with Ukraine. Refugees were already pouring into Hungary. Everybody at the conference was acutely conscious of what was going on.
“People’s worldview has been turned upside down violently and unpredictably. Therefore, the relevance of the message about a God who is still on his throne despite the chaos was very strong to me.
“In the early days of the war, I was speaking to people in Ukraine daily, including Sergiy, and I just mentioned some of the things I’d been teaching. He said ‘We need that!’ So it came about directly as a consequence of being next door at the time that the war broke out.”
Life and death faith issue
Despite fleeing their homes and experiencing high levels of trauma and chaos, these students are very keen to learn and be trained in preaching the Bible.
“It was clear from the questions and the conversations that this is a life and death faith issue. A lot depends on how they process this – so it’s a privilege” Mark said.
Please continue to pray earnestly for our family in Ukraine, in particular these students who have been traumatised by the war.
Another way to get involved is to support the Ukraine Connect matching initiative. It’s a collaboration between Langham Preaching (Europe), UFM (United for Mission) Worldwide and IFES (International Fellowship of Evangelical Students) Europe.
Through this scheme, hosts have been found for over 300 Ukrainians! More hosts are needed though. Currently over 1,200 Ukrainians have contacted Ukraine Connect seeking homes. More admin volunteers are needed too. Visit the Ukraine Connect website for more information and don’t forget to pray.