On May 25th, 2014 Ukraine elected its fifth president, Petro Poroshenko. During his inauguration speech on June 7th he made several comments that should encourage Ukrainian evangelical churches and foreign missionaries alike.
Point #1: President Poroshenko is dedicated to quickly bringing an end to the civil war in Ukraine. He claims it will be accomplished “in hours, not in months.”
Significance: Political peace will free churches in the east to continue their local ministries; allow evangelistic travel to resume; and encourage the economic growth needed for believers to support church ministries and missionaries.
Point #2: The president made it clear that he is strongly in favor of European-style freedom and democracy for Ukraine. He used the word “European” 20 times in his speech.
Significance: This reverses the trend of the previous administration’s desire to establish close ties with Russia. Thus, Ukrainians and foreign missionaries will have greater religious freedom. In particular, evangelicals should no longer fear persecution.
Point #3: President Poroshenko specifically mentioned visa-free travel between the European Union and Ukraine by January, 2015.
Significance: This is especially good news for foreign missionaries like me because our travel in and out of the country has been difficult and limited for years. Assuming that Americans will be accorded the same travel privileges they have in the rest of Europe, we should save a lot of time and money entering and living in Ukraine.
Conclusion: No one knows if the current political climate will allow President Poroshenko to accomplish his goals. But for the Gospel’s sake, I pray that it will be so. Please join me in that prayer.
You can read President Poroshenko’s 2,412-word speech in English at: http://www.equippers-network.org/225-inauguration-speech