WHAT IS DONBAS?
The designation, Donbas, is a contraction of the two words – Donetsk and basin. The Donetsk Basin is the large geographic area in eastern Ukraine where pro-Russian protesters have taken over several Ukrainian government buildings in three provinces. Protesters are demanding that these provinces become part of Russia. Just like what happened in Crimea last month. They’ve called for a referendum on May 11, 2014.
WHY IS DONBAS SO IMPORTANT?
First, coal mining has flourished for over two hundred years there and is still going strong. Secondly, steel mills produce metal for export, mostly to Russia. Industrially, it’s been a very successful part of Ukraine, perhaps one of the richest parts of Ukraine.
Thirdly, it’s a densely populated area. The central province of Donetsk alone contains 10% of Ukraine’s population.
So this conflict is not merely about Russian speakers versus Ukrainian speakers. It’s a strategic area economically and politically. If these provinces secede from Ukraine and join the Russian federation, it will diminish the size and strength of an independent nation.
WHAT IS DONBAS’S SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE?
To me the spiritual and eternal implications of this conflict more significant than the political. The Donetsk, Lugansk and Xarkiv regions have been strong spiritually. There are many active evangelical churches located there and they have been spreading the Gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ throughout the region. There are several Bible colleges in this area that are producing pastors and missionaries. I don’t know what will become of these churches and Bible colleges if they become part of Russia.
I have preached in some of these churches and taught in some of these Bible colleges. I know these people and I grieve over their situation. Many of my students are from this region, including Artur, one my graduates who is currently serving as a missionary in China. How sad it would be for him to come back from China after three years only to discover that his home is now in Russia and that his mother is no longer a Ukrainian citizen. How difficult it would be for him to even go home with his outdated Ukrainian passport!
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
I want you to think spiritually when you see something in the news about Ukraine. This conflict is about a lot more than politics and economics. It’s a spiritual battle as well. If it turns into an all-out war, it could not only retard the spread of the Gospel in Ukraine, but also limit the number of missionaries who would have been sent out from this region to other countries.
Please join me in asking the Lord for 1) political peace in Ukraine; 2) spiritual revival in the country; and 3) the spreading of the Gospel to other countries in spite of this crisis.