The long-simmering conflict between Russia and Ukraine saw tensions reach their highest levels since 2014 this week, as an estimated 100,000 Russian troops amassed on the Ukraine border in what Russia described as a “snap inspection” of its military readiness in the region. The action drew calls of concern from the United States and the European Union until Russia ordered the troops to return to their home bases.
But the action has drawn a different response from Voice of the Martyrs Korea. We have joined an international coalition of ministries committed to an emergency distribution of 100,000 children’s New Testaments throughout Eastern Ukraine as soon as possible.
Too often we Christians have a wrong thinking that Bible distribution must wait or be postponed until a conflict or war is over, as if political peace is necessary to first make an area “safe” for the Bible. In truth, the Word of God is always our only hope for true peace, and it is God’s word that makes an area “safe” for peace.
Voice of the Martyrs Korea sees Bible distribution in major zones of conflict as one of the ministry’s core competencies and most important responsibilities. We are not a mission organization but instead a partner with local Christians living under persecution or pressure. Any time a major conflict threatens an area, that’s when people in that area instinctively turn to God and become open to the Bible. They’re looking for hope. Sometimes missionary organizations evacuate their personnel in such times, or they urge their missionaries to be cautious. But local Christians have nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. They still have to go to work and to the market and to church. God then seems to give these ordinary local Christians a special boldness to preach the gospel and share the Bible with their neighbors.
The present situation in Eastern Ukraine is one such opportunity. Since fighting broke out in 2014, evangelical Christians in the area have faced sporadic raids, arrests, worship bans, seizure of church property, and kidnappings of pastors. That means that for children who are elementary school age or younger, all they have known in their lives is fear and conflict. This month that international tension reached its worst levels since 2014. We believe that, in the words of the prophet Isaiah, these kids have “studied war” long enough. It’s time for them to be able to study Jesus.
The emergency Bible distribution project has set the goal of distributing 100,000 “Action Bible” New Testaments to children in the Lugansk and Donetsk regions through a coalition including Voice of the Martyrs Canada, Mission Eurasia, and School Without Walls. The distribution, to be undertaken on a continual basis throughout the summer and early fall as funds come in, will utilize existing field networks and workers specially trained in reaching youth in the area. The Action Bible uses a graphic novel format to portray scripture in a popularized comic book-type format.
The cost for distributing each Action Bible New Testament in this emergency campaign is 1,500 KRW (roughly $1.35 USD). Individuals interested in donating to help the distribution effort can give at www.vomkorea.com/en/donation or via electronic transfer to:
국민은행 (KB Bank) 463501-01-243303
예금주 (Account Holder): (사)순교자의소리
Please include the word “Bibles” on the donation.