25 October 2014



A few days ago, I watched a video interview of Vladimir Zhirinovsky, head of the Liberal Democratic Party, Russia’s fourth largest political block. In his typically smug and sneering style he said that on Sunday, October 26, 2014, Ukraine’s nation-wide parliamentary elections would fail because pro-Russian armed agents would overpower all the polling sites. Following this Ukraine’s so-called Banderov-led nazi (anti-Russian) government would promptly collapse to be replaced by a state which favors the true leader of Russia, Vladimir Putin. Or something like that. He was so confident it was like a done deal. 

I know this is the kind of drivel that we’ve come to expect from him, and one should not pay it a whole lot of notice. But there is a war going on and Ukraine has lost complete control of several hundred kilometers of its border with Russia. Two days ago, Thursday, three metro stations in Kyiv were closed for bomb threats, which is happening entirely too often lately. The same day three major discount stores were shut down for the same reason.   In advance of tomorrows elections, the army, national guard, and militia are on high alert. 

So with all of this rattling around in my subconscious, yesterday I went to our weekly Friday morning prayer meeting where we pray for peace in Ukraine among a dozen other urgent needs. And that’s where God spoke to me from a Bible passage we read before prayer. 

Turns out there was a similar situation in Israel in King Hezekiah’s day. Sennacherib, King of Assyria, was camping on Jerusalem’s doorstep with 185,000 troops. Israel was completely unprepared militarily to contend with these forces, which had already destroyed all the surrounding nations and taken all the fortified cities of Judah. Only Jerusalem remained. The Assyrian messenger declared haughtily, 

“Look! You have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands by utterly destroying them; and shall you be delivered? Have the gods of the nations delivered those whom my fathers have destroyed, Gozan and Haran and Rezeph, and the people of Eden who were in Telassar? Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah?’” (2 Kings 19:11-13) 

This so reminded me of Zhirinovsky, breathing threats toward Ukraine! Hezekiah took the Assyrian King’s threatening message into Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem and opened it up before the Lord.

“O Lord God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Incline Your ear, O Lord, and hear; open Your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. Truly, Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands, and have cast their gods into the fire; for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands—wood and stone. Therefore they destroyed them. Now therefore, O Lord our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord God, You alone.” (2 Kings 19:15-19)

Was there a word in this prayer about Jerusalem’s sorry military condition? This prayer was centered on God’s glory and reputation alone, honoring him as holy and majestic, Creator of heaven and earth. Of course you know “the rest of the story”, but I’ll copy it here in case it’s been a while since you read it: 

“And it came to pass on a certain night that the angel of the Lord went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses—all dead. So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went away . . .” (2 Kings 19:35,36) 

Likewise, let us always remember to honor the Lord by remembering that whether threats are real or empty, He is always in control, and his ear is turned to humble hearts who turn to him when they are afraid. 

Have a wonderful and prayerful day in his grace, and remember to ask his blessing on Ukraine’s elections tomorrow, Sunday, October 26th, 2014. 

Article by Jeff Franks.  Photo by Coleen Franks, western Ukraine this month.


You have surely noticed three names dominating the world headlines: 


Tell me, which of these big three would have grabbed your attention only a year ago? That’s right! None of them. They were different, weren’t they? What will they be a year from now? Well, only the Lord knows, but there are certain forces behind them which actually do not change: death, disease, and war. Like the horsemen of the Apocalypse, we can “safely” predict that these key players, though their names may change, will still be upping their game until the Lord returns.
Knowing that, as believers how should we respond to these evil forces when they come to our neighborhood, to our very doorstep? 

Here in Ukraine, a year ago Coleen and I could not have anticipated the outbreak of war and the widespread social and economic challenges that we would be facing today with our Ukrainian friends. However, watching their response has been instructive and inspirational for us, and I hope their example will also encourage you and prepare you to face any storms on your horizon. If I were to ask a close Ukrainian Baptist friend for advice on what to do in times of national upheaval, here is what I think he would tell me. 

First, hold your inner peace. Jesus said, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass.” (Matthew 24:6) The entire country seemed to teeter on a knife-edge of suspense during the long and difficult winter of 2013-14. No one really knew when or how the “Maidan” protests in Kyiv would resolve. There were outbreaks of violence from both sides, but the Baptists who took part always did so with prayer and song, peacefully, as if to say, “It’s OK. God’s still in control.” 

Second, serve those in greater need. Throughout the long months of war, starting in the spring and continuing through this fall, the Ukrainian believers provided clothing, opened their homes for refugees, and served in countless other practical ways, not “growing weary in doing
good.” (Galatians 6:9) 

Third, keep sharing the love of Jesus Christ, no matter what happens. I was especially encouraged to see teams of young people walk into the winter conflict on Maidan Square and share the gospel with all and any who would listen. Unforgettable! 

Fourth, pray without ceasing. It seems there is nothing like troubled times to bring new life to our prayer ministry. However, just between us, don’t pray for trouble, just pray! It has been a joy to kneel so frequently with so many faithful partners in prayer, daily, weekly, continually! 

When I began to write this article I wondered which event in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict would have the greatest significance for our BMAA believers? This previous Sunday at 3 pm,
the Baptist Union of Ukraine, having received approval from President Poroshenko’s administration, invited believers of all professions to gather in Kyiv’s Maidan Square to pray for peace in Ukraine. Similar prayer meetings were held simultaneously in all of Ukraine’s major cities.
When has a nation so publicly and boldly sought the favor and protection of God? Though this event did not rate in today’s fear-laced headlines, remember that heaven views earthly events in the most radically different way, and thank God for that! So alongside ISIS and Ebola victims, please remember Ukraine’s peace in your prayers! 

Written by Jeff FranksPublished in the Baptist Trumpet, October 2014. Photo by Anatoly Kaluzhny