Read an update and prayer request from John Calhoun, a United Methodist missionary serving in Ukraine.
Dearest friends of the UMC in Ukraine,
Peace to you all from Kyiv. It is midday on Wednesday, and for the past 24 hours the center of Kyiv has been the scene of violent clashes between anti-government protesters and riot police. The clashes began yesterday afternoon near the Ukrainian parliament, and by nightfall had spread to Independence Square, where protesters have been encamped since late November.
Since yesterday, at least 25 people have been killed, and over one thousand injured. The casualties include both protesters and the police. Many buildings surrounding Independence Square have suffered fire damage. At the moment, there is an uneasy standoff between hundreds of police and many thousands of protesters in the square, but the mood remains extremely tense. The government has placed the blame for the recent conflict on the opposition leaders and has vowed to clear the square of all protesters.
Although the clashes are concentrated in the city center, daily life throughout the city has been disrupted: schools and most work places are closed, the entire subway system has been shut down, and most residents are remaining indoors (as are my family and I today). Clashes have also been reported in other parts of the country, with anti-government protesters having taken over government buildings in many regions of western Ukraine.
I've been in contact with the pastors of the two United Methodist congregations in Kyiv; they and their church members are safe and far from the conflict zone. Our United Methodist missionary in L'viv, who works with a United Methodist-related student ministry in western Ukraine, reports that some students are taking part in local demonstrations, but that the situation remains relatively calm.
Thank you for your messages of support in this difficult time. Please continue to pray for a peaceful end to this ongoing conflict, for the faithful witness of the United Methodist Church across the country, and for a better future for the people of Ukraine.Yours in Christ, John The Rev.John Calhounis a General Board of Global Ministries missionary serving in ministry with the United Methodist Church in Ukraine.