andrew muzychuk

Leadership, family, theology and world events

What Ukraine-Russia Conflict Revealed About Slavic Church Community

ukraine-map

 

This post is not about geopolitics, politics, Putin, Ukrainians or Russians in general, but about the questions that became obvious and need to be answered and issues to be overcome.

I was hesitating for the long time to write this blog because well known recent events in Ukraine and Russia are so personal to all Slavic people and people already took sides. So the facts and the arguments are not heard anymore. It seemed to me like the time will help to cool down emotions and we will be able to see things more clearly. But later I realized that those events just revealed things that have been in our communities for years; but we didn’t see it, or it wasn’t important to discuss. The things that I want to discuss, I believe, have not been caused by the recent events, but they become obvious because of the crisis. And sooner or later, we have to have honest conversations and find answers.

 

1. Not from this world?

Almost from the beginning of “Maidan” (protests against the corrupted Yanukovich regime), Christians in the former Soviet Union and immigrants in America, held completely opposite attitudes and reacted differently. There might be some Christians who supported the violence, but I personally don’t know anyone like this. It seems like, the discussion mostly was going around whether Christians should be involved in raising their voices even in the peaceful protests against corruption or should we just preach the Kingdom of Heaven and be indifferent to what is going on in our community. The latter attitude maybe wasn’t prevalent, but still popular. As I already discussed it my post “Gospel, Politics and Social Issues”, the Gospel message is the only thing that changes human heart and it should be the priority. But the Bible doesn’t teach us to be indifferent to the issues and problems in our community. And issues like corruption, slavery, abuses, abortion are not a politics and morality and Christians shouldn’t be indifferent.

 

John the Baptist wasn’t killed for preaching about Messiah, but for speaking against king’s amoral act. Through the church history many Christians were killed or had been threatened not for just preaching about the Kingdom of Heaven, but for speaking against slavery, human trafficking, drug cartels, killings of Indians, genocide, corrupted politicians, etc. And many reforms happened thanks to their active role. That is our legacy.

 

Many churches in America are including the word “community” in their name to remind one more time, that we – Christians, care about people around us and we are involved. One the other hand, the seculars are promoting the idea that the church was absent from the reforms and was supporting “the powerful of this world” either actively or passively by telling abused and poor ones not to change anything but think about havens only. It is not complete historical truth, but it can be if we will take a position of “not involvement”.

I am not talking about supporting parties and politicians, but about being clear and vocal about our stance against different issues, whether it is abortion or corruption.

 

2. Do I trust my brother?

It was a common practice among Christians during Soviet Union regime to trust your brother and sisters and dismiss the communist interpretation of the events as completely worthless. I am noticing, that that is not the case anymore. There are so many examples where accounts of our brothers from the epicenter of the events are totally dismissed when it doesn’t match with the government propaganda. I am not saying that the eyewitness accounts of our brothers and sisters are always accurate or cannot be biased. But I worry about complete distrust to the brothers whose ethnicity is different than yours.

 

3. Whitewashing of Communism

The disturbing tendency that I am noticing is to compare “conservative values” of Soviet regime and the liberalism of the West. Let me say that conservative, “almost Christians like” (as some say) values of the Soviet Union is a myth. Often we are getting an impression from the “neighborhood” where we, or our parents used to live or from black and white movies from our childhood. But the general picture is terrible: drunkenness and infidelity were wide spread. In the 1980s, the divorce rate was the highest in the world, as well as abortion. By the way, in 1920, Soviet Union was the first country in the world to allow abortion in all circumstances. It was a common practice to have a lover even among common folks.

 

But even if the Communist regime did hold “conservative values” it doesn’t change a thing. We cannot forget that this regime murdered millions of our brothers. It has been estimated that 12-20 millions of “religious” people, mostly Christians were murdered during soviet regime. For me, the whitewashing of communism is the same like the whitewashing of Nazism; after all it also held many conservative values.

 

4. Russian Chauvinism

Much has been said about Ukrainian nationalism. But somehow we missed or ignored a rise of the Russian Nationalism or often, even Chauvinism. Often it became acceptable for those who called themselves brothers to make insulting jokes about the intelligence of Moldavians, Estonians and lately about Ukrainians or calling them names. It goes along with the belief of special God’s mission for Russia and Russians.

But in the end we need to realize, there is no excuse for any type of Chauvinism wherever it is Russian, Ukrainian or American or from somewhere else. There is nothing wrong in loving and praying for people from your home country, but the true love toward one’s nationality doesn’t cause a hatred or mockery of other nationalities.

 

I think the reason those issues are becoming oblivious, is because it is the time to be honest and figure out were the church will be moving. Do we want to be the part of the community in order to save people who live here? Do we want to live in the past of “not so bad communism times” and always comparing it to the “liberal western reality” or realize that both of them are not the answer? Do we want to keep talking about our brother’s nationalism or realize that we have the same issues, if not even worse? I believe there is a future for Slavic churches. But they have to overcome these issues.

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2 comments on “What Ukraine-Russia Conflict Revealed About Slavic Church Community

  1. Nina Ruseva
    May 10, 2014

    Thank you! Slavic pastors need to talk about this more! There are a lot of emotions going on between ukraininens and russians. Some christians are so full of hate that they bragging how great their armies are and how they are ready to fight. It was hard for me too at the beginning to keep positive emotions towards russia or its government. I prayed and God gave me this peace in heart! yes i will never agree with russia’s politics towards ukraine. But i dont hate them or dislike i pray for russia as well as for ukraine.

  2. Mel Wild
    May 10, 2014

    Thanks for sharing your insights into this important issue. You make so many good points here. I have friends in both Russia and Ukraine (and now Russian-Crimea) and we support ministries in both countries I’ve been involved in both places. I have picked up on some of what you say. The politics and nationalistic pride between countries really gets in the way of useful conversation. Especially, between Christian brothers and sisters on these issues. But I have to say, I’ve also seen this same kind of stuff from conservative Christians in America. We must remember that we all belong to another Kingdom but our ministry is to represent Christ here on earth in our communities and even nations, while not getting caught up in politicized nationalistic pride.

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