Episode 298

Southern Baptists Caring for Ukrainians, Plan for Evangelism & Ohio Disaster Relief Begins Cleanup

Feb 23, 2023

vIn 2021 and early 2022, International Mission Board missionaries serving in Ukraine heard rumors of war, which led to an overland evacuation. Looking in the rearview mirror, they realize they couldn’t have guessed the trauma about to mushroom from the east. Although believers recognize their calling to share the gospel with their neighbors, not many are having evangelistic conversations. In a 2022 study conducted by Lifeway Research, few Christians say they had shared the gospel with a non-Christian loved one (38%) or stranger (30%) in the last six months. Yet most Americans are open to having faith conversations with strangers (51%) or friends (66%). And, residents of East Palestine, Ohio remain on edge, despite officials’ assurances, about the safety of returning to their homes after a Norfolk Southern Railway train derailed Feb. 3. A subsequent “controlled breach” of the train’s cars resulted in a large fire and cloud that covered the area, leading many to stay away in hotels or homes with friends or relatives.

Transcript

In 2021 and early 2022, International Mission Board missionaries serving in Ukraine heard rumors of war, which led to an overland evacuation. Looking in the rearview mirror, they realize they couldn’t have guessed the trauma about to mushroom from the east.

Less than one month after the missionaries’ exodus, war made a forceful entry into the country they’d come to call home. The war ripped the life from the bodies of more than 7,100 civilians, tore husbands from wives and fathers from children, decimated towns and cities, stole childhoods and livelihoods, and wrought immeasurable havoc on the eastern European nation.

Ukrainian Christian refugees brought the light that could not and would not be extinguished to countries with significantly lower populations of evangelicals. Ukraine is home to the highest percentage of evangelicals in Europe. Their dispersion meant the gospel was also dispersed.

Only the Lord knows how long the war will last. Kings and kingdoms will all pass away, but there’s something about Jesus’ name — the name that extends past rumors of war.
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Although believers recognize their calling to share the gospel with their neighbors, not many are having evangelistic conversations. In a 2022 study conducted by Lifeway Research, few Christians say they had shared the gospel with a non-Christian loved one (38%) or stranger (30%) in the last six months. Yet most Americans are open to having faith conversations with strangers (51%) or friends (66%).

Matt Queen, professor of evangelism at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, believes evangelism is a spiritual discipline believers must intentionally practice and plan for.

Read a full conversation with Queen in our Baptist Press Toolbox.
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Good News for Today is sponsored by The Voice of the Martyrs

Good News for Today is made possible through our friends at The Voice of the Martyrs, a nonprofit organization that serves persecuted Christians around the world. Founded in 1967 by Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand, VOM is dedicated to inspiring believers to deepen their commitment to Christ and to fulfill His Great Commission — no matter the cost. Find out more and sign up for their free monthly magazine at vom.org/goodnews.
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Residents of East Palestine, Ohio remain on edge, despite officials’ assurances, about the safety of returning to their homes after a Norfolk Southern Railway train derailed Feb. 3. A subsequent “controlled breach” of the train’s cars resulted in a large fire and cloud that covered the area, leading many to stay away in hotels or homes with friends or relatives.

Teams of Ohio Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (OSBDR) personnel have started cleaning homes in the area affected by a train derailment and chemical fire earlier this month.

The help began Feb. 20 with an OSBDR team arriving to clean out and wipe down the inside of homes. Clothes, toys and other cloth items are bagged up to either be cleaned or thrown out at the homeowner’s discretion.

OSBDR also has its own toxicologist who is ex-military and “a subject matter expert on these chemicals” on site. Volunteers work in homes that have passed inspection by the Environment Protection Agency and Norfolk Southern, but still wear gloves and N-95 masks.

Additional teams are scheduled to arrive this weekend, said Heading, as more cleanup requests are issued. He said the area was one with several oft-visited food banks and is in need of those cupboards being kept full. Goya Foods recently announced it would be shipping ready-to-serve meals and beverages to those affected by the accident.

Read the full piece and sign up for our daily emails at Baptist Press.com.

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