Thank you for showing the love of Christ

Bishop Shvarts greeted the Lutherans in Poland and their Presiding Bishop Jerzy Samiec. He thanked the Lutherans for their commitment, support, prayers, messages, good words, willingness to help and the help they have shown so far. He recalled that the difficult situation in Ukraine has been going on for 8 years, and its people did not expect it to get any worse: "Until the last day, we hoped that it would be possible to negotiate, it would be possible to somehow solve it diplomatically, but unfortunately Russia attacked us. It was very unexpected and many of our parishioners as well as many Ukrainians were awakened by the missile strikes in our cities. So the great diplomacy that we all talked about so much in Europe certainly failed."
 
He said the war is sweeping across almost the entire country and is still going on in most places where there are Lutheran parishes. The heaviest fighting is around Kharkiv and Kiev, but it could change again at any moment where parishes are in relatively safety. Bishop Pavlo Shvarts said: "We are learning what it means to live in shelters, to sleep in bathtubs, what it means to be refugees, what rockets are and what rockets and tanks are". He also expressed gratitude for the solidarity shown by other European countries, Lutheran Churches in Europe and around the world, for their willingness to help, even though it is not always possible to receive that help.
 
Bishop Shvarts stated with sadness that there are still those who remain silent in the face of the war in Ukraine or say that not everything is so clear, or claim that there are two sides to the conflict and speak of some imaginary peace. They do not want to talk about the perpetrator of this violence, about the fact that it was Russia that attacked Ukraine, that its president gave such an order.
 
As Bishop Shvarts noted, the effects of this war are difficult to assess, and in three days a lot has happened, many have died and sadly many more will die. "Ukraine has united and many people around Ukraine have also united wanting to help, so that there will be peace, so that peace returns."
 
The leader of the Ukrainian Lutherans said what the people of Ukraine need: "we need you to continue to pray for us and for our people, we need the Lutherans, who often like to be diplomatic, very gentle, to learn, what is possible at least in Europe and in the neighbouring countries, to call by name the things that are. To call that war is a sin and the one who attacks is the perpetrator, not both sides." He mentioned that Ukraine needs pastoral help and this will be especially important when people start emigrating from Ukraine. However, he added that it is not at all easy to cross the borders and people wait there for many hours. He thanked for all the actions and collections that have been announced, because they are very much needed, although the biggest challenge is still ahead of us.
 
Finally, Bishop Shvarts stressed: "Thank you for not forgetting your faith, not forgetting us and showing the love of Christ towards us and our nation. Thank you!".
 

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