HUNTSVILLE, Ala.(WHNT)-The ongoing crisis in Ukraine is throwing a curveball to area churches who do mission work there.
Many churches are now having to consider the possibility of cancelling mission trips that are planned for this summer due to concerns over team member safety. For Huntsville resident Jack Parker it’s personal. Parker led his first mission trip to Ukraine in 1990, and has gone nearly every year since. But now he has to consider the possibility that this year’s trip may not happen.
“We’re looking to see how the situation develops,” said Parker, who typically leads mission teams of 25 to 30 people from a variety of Southern Baptist churches around Madison County. “It’s pretty hard to watch this. The most important thing is the political stability because that will destroy your ability to work at all if the political situation becomes unstable and you’re unable to put your people safely into the environment.”
Parker helped start up several churches in Ukraine, and also coordinates with a number of missionaries there. His connection with the country started with his role as a U.S. Army intelligence officer in Eastern Europe during the 1980s. But the eastern Ukrainian towns and churches that his mission teams partner with are not farm from the Russian border, and many wonder if it’s the next region to be taken over after Crimea was annexed earlier this week. The U.S. and other western nations called the annexation a violation of international law.
Parker and several area pastors said their biggest concern is Russia’s track record of religious persecution and what that could mean for churches in eastern Ukraine.
“Our only real concern is that the kingdom of the Lord be able to move forward and that we’re able to do our ministries in quiet and peace.”