Call to ‘pray for our survival’ as Ukraine marks Independence Day

The churchwarden at Christ Church in Kyiv is urging people around the world to keep praying for Ukraine as it commemorates its Independence Day today (Wednesday 24 August 2022).

‘What we should do right now is to stand for what we believe is right,’ says Christina Laschenko. ‘We are in a very difficult situation as a nation today – please pray for us and our survival.’

Today marks Ukraine’s independence from the former Soviet Union and usually sees military parades in the capital, but mass events have been cancelled this year because of fears of Russian artillery attacks. Today also marks exactly six months since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in February.

‘There will be no celebrations this year’ says Christina. ‘Every day we have been hearing warnings from the authorities not to ignore air strike alarm warnings and to hide in bunkers on Independence Day because the Ukrainian authorities and the military expect vile shelling and missile attacks on civilian areas.’

Despite the increased threat, Christina says people in Kyiv are more positive than when the war began and anyone arriving in the city might think life was almost back to normal: many shops are open, restaurants are almost full, and theatres and cinemas are working normally.

‘The mood in Kyiv has changed from shock, despair and reckless determination to the readiness to work patiently for the sake of victory,’ she says. ‘Many people have come back and are trying to work and to volunteer.’

But this peaceful picture is misleading and changes when air strike sirens sound.

‘We are in danger everywhere irrespective of how far you are from the frontline. The Russians are shelling big cities and small towns…. The Russians will not stop – they want to destroy Ukrainians and for us, fighting against them is a matter of survival.’

The congregation at Christ Church shrank dramatically as people fled from the city – many of them escaping overseas. But those who have remained continue to meet to pray and worship, sometimes meeting with Lutherans at St Catherine’s for a joint service.

‘During our joint worships with the Lutherans, we pray together for the lives of Ukrainian people, for the support of the Ukrainian army, for the liberation of Ukraine. We also pray for those who are prisoners of war, who are in occupied territories and who are innocent victims of intensive shelling,’ explains Christina. ‘Our special prayers are for those who have lost their homes and who are displaced either inside Ukraine or outside the country.’

Although people are coming back to Kyiv, Christina doesn’t expect many of the Christ Church congregation to return soon. But she remains hopeful that will change.

‘Maybe by November more people will return – depending on the situation with shelling and the state of the war.’

In the days and weeks after the war began, the Diocese in Europe gathered a range of resources to help people support their brothers and sisters in Ukraine through prayer. To access and download these resources, click here