Praying for God’s People in Ukraine

Bishop Paul Lanier  |  February 25, 2022

Elderly Jewish people in Ukraine
(Photo: JDC/Arik Shraga)

Bishop Paul Lanier, The Fellowship’s Chairman of the Board, shares a Christian perspective on events impacting the Jewish people of Ukraine.

Shalom,

I’m not at home. I’m actually in a little hotel that my wife and I have been coming to for the past 40 years or so. It’s a very simple place, and it’s where I come sometimes to pray, to study, sometimes to fast — to hear from God.

So, I come here to “get away” — but I can’t really get away from what’s happening in the world, any more than you can. And this week, we heard about something we’ve been dreading: war in Ukraine. We’ve been troubled by what we heard was coming. We’ve prayed about it. And it’s here. And there are 200,000 Jews, along with a host of other innocent people, in the crossfire.

It’s the worst crisis in Europe since World War II. Do you have a father or grandfather who fought in that war? Do you know someone who served, and they don’t want to talk about it? What they saw, what they heard, what they felt… they can’t go there in their memories. And today, there are a lot of fresh stories like that being written, fresh pain being suffered, fresh need being felt.

Today, a lot of good people are saying to themselves: This is terrible. This is horrible. We’re too late. But with this Fellowship family, this covenant congregation, you’re not too late

I bet you right now if I said to you, “I need you to go into your kitchen and grab a loaf of bread and overnight it to Ukraine,” you’d do it. That’s who you are. You’d move so fast you wouldn’t even hear the rest of what I said. If I said, “There’s people in Ukraine who need medicine, would you go to your medicine cabinet, empty it out, and overnight it to them?” you’d do it, because that’s your heart. That’s your passion for the Jewish people.

Well, please don’t send bread. Don’t send meds. They’ll never get there. But you and I can make it so the people who are on the ground and in a position to bring that bread and those medications to the people who need them have the resources to do it. Would you give $25? I know, that may not seem like it can do much. But think of the size and the strength of this fellowship! You put your $25 with $25 from the person down the block or across town who’s a part of this fellowship, it’s amazing what you can do. It’s amazing.

In a situation like this, a lot of people might respond with fear and shut down. But you don’t. You respond with faith. And that’s why you are the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.

Maybe you’re saying, “all I can do is pray.” Oh, that’s the greatest gift — being able to release the presence and power of God. That’s not a minimalist response. That’s tapping into the greatest power of all.

Would you pray with me? Almighty God, I’m not in Ukraine, and yet Ukraine changed my life. It was years ago when I sat down in front of the television and saw our dear Rabbi Eckstein in Ukraine. People were hurting then. Well, I listened to him, and I learned from him, and I loved him. I learned about and learned to love this fellowship because of Ukraine. I’ve never been there. Most of these people praying with me right now probably haven’t been there. And yet, we have the capacity right now to save Jewish lives. Oh Lord, thank you that of all the people in the world you allow us to be part of this fellowship, and you use this fellowship in such a prophetic way. We give you praise for that. Amen.

Bishop Paul Lanier

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