Can the Kingdom Disrupt a War?

December 6, 2023 | Written by Rowland Smith

Can the Kingdom Disrupt a War?

This was the question our church asked last year during our annual Christmas offering. The war in Ukraine was at its worst, and the people of Ukraine needed the hope and healing of God’s kingdom. So how could God’s kingdom disrupt a war, or could it at all? After all, a war involves weapons, death, explosions, and an aggressiveness that is hard to stop. People were being killed, whole towns and cities destroyed, and there was a mass of refugees moving from the East of Ukraine to the West to find safety.

Recently, we found out the answer to that question we asked one year ago…

Yes, the kingdom can disrupt a war.

I and my colleague, George Brown, took two flights to arrive at Krakow, Poland where we caught a train to Premizyl, a small town on the border of Poland and Ukraine. From there we took another train to Lviv, Ukraine, our destination. A faith-based ministry and church, New Hope Ukraine is based there, and we were scheduled to be with the directors, Roman and Irena Matviyiv for three days to look at the ministries New Hope is currently involved in.

New Hope Ukraine Ministry Center – Lviv, Ukraine

Lviv has generally been spared the devastation that some of the Eastern parts of the country have seen, but still has experienced rockets and some scattered attacks. This fact was made abruptly clear to us our first full day there when we experienced air-raid sirens (see video here) throughout the whole city, at which point we found the center hallway of the house, away from windows and the outside. The experience was eerie and eye-opening. While there was no attack on Lviv during this warning, it was an example of the constant threat that people live under as they try to continue their normal lives.

At the height of the fighting last year, New Hope had ceased Sunday church services and turned their energy and focus on refugees. As people fled the East, away from the incoming Russian advance, Lviv was one of the cities where they sought refuge. With little more than the clothes on their backs, there was an immediate need for food and shelter. New Hope put all of its efforts into providing both, turning its ministry center and worship space into sleeping quarters. They partnered with a Polish ministry that drove food into Lviv to pass out to those who were hungry. New Hope disrupted the pain the war had brought into people’s lives, by loving them, caring for them, and giving them hope.

George and I were honored to have meals with two refugee families that New Hope had helped. Both families described how they fled the war zones, one jumping on a bus that had to zig-zag through the countryside to escape the fighting, one boarding a train that took multiple hours to make its way through the country. New Hope helped both these families find housing, jobs, and a new, more stable life in Lviv. When asked if they would return to their homes when the war was over, we were shown video drone pictures of their house (see video here), showing the total devastation of their town. There is no going back, at least for years to come.

One of the refugee families we were honored to meet

A large part of New Hope’s ministry is sending messages of hope to soldiers on the front lines. One way they do this is by making candles from discarded canned goods using cardboard and melted wax. The soldiers use the candles for light, for warmth, and convert them to small cookstoves. One unit sent back a Ukrainian flag signed by all the soldiers in appreciation. One soldier sent back a video (see here) of him using the candle in a foxhole.

New Hope has recently restarted their worship services again on Sundays, seeking some semblance of regular life and rhythm. After the services, the church passes out bags of basic food and helps to refugee families trying to find a new life in Lviv. These efforts to help those in transition have resulted in several decisions to follow Jesus, and even new team members at New Hope who once lived in war zones.

Sunday morning with New Hope

The Ukrainian people are beautiful and surprisingly happy in the midst of such disruptions to normal life. Even the refugees we met, though sad about the situation, still don a smile and are grateful they are safe and free from the chaos of the front lines of war. On more than one occasion, George and I were thanked (as Americans) for being there and for our country’s help in pushing back Russia. One lady came to us and in her broken English clasped my hands and tearfully said to “thank your people” for helping Ukraine.

Passing out food to refugee families

So, can the Kingdom of God disrupt war? Yes. New Hope Ukraine has proven that. They have come to the aid of hundreds of people made in God’s image and reminded them that they are still seen, known, and loved. They have housed people, fed people, worshipped with them, prayed with them. They touch the lives of soldiers on the front lines who live in frigid foxholes, letting them know that God sees them. New Hope may not be able to stop the fighting on its own, but they disrupt the effects of war on people’s lives, giving them, well, what their name says….New Hope.

If you are interested in helping Pulpit Rock continue to support New Hope Ukraine, reach out to me directly at Please be in prayer for them and the country of Ukraine during this tumultuous time

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