Image: REUTERS/ 68th Separate Hunting Brigade 'Oleksy Dovbusha'

By Katelin van Zyl

On Monday 12 June, Ukraine reported that its army had retaken seven villages from Russian occupation so far, although Russia is yet to confirm these claims or any retreat of its forces. On Saturday 10 June, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed that it was carrying out a counter-offensive, and on Monday, Ukraine’s General Staff said there had been 25 clashes over the past day. Meanwhile, Russia also launched new attacks against Ukraine-held areas in several parts of the country, with attacks in Donetsk, Sumy, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv, Dnipropetrovsk, and Luhansk oblasts reported over the last 24 hours on 13 June.

Ukrainian dams have also been damaged in parts of the country, for which each side blames the other. Kakhovka dam – a major Dnipro/Dnieper River dam in the Russian-controlled Nova Kakhovka city in the southern Kherson region – collapsed on 6 June, causing serious flooding affecting thousands of people living downstream.

At least 10 people were killed and 41 were reported missing on the Ukrainian-controlled side of the river, while approximately 40,000 residents in both Ukrainian and Russian-held areas were forced to leave their homes. Its hydroelectric station was destroyed, and there are concerns that the ability of the Kakhovka reservoir to cool the upstream Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant will be affected. Other concerns relate to environmental consequences, health risks, the dislodging of landmines, and the long-term impact on agricultural land. Shortly after, on 11 June, a smaller dam in the village of Novodarivka in the Donetsk region was reported to have been blown up, causing flooding on both banks of the Mokri Yaly River. This river had become a very successful axis for Ukraine’s advances in western Donetsk, with forces moving along both sides of the river and declaring the liberation of villages along the way.

While secular news focuses on the negative aspects of this war, it has been encouraging to hear about how active many Ukrainian churches have been in serving God and their communities during this time of crisis. Many churches serve through mercy ministry, giving food, other essential items, medical treatment, and housing to those in need, especially in areas with a high number of internally displaced persons (such as Kyiv). A Crisis Response Network partner in Ukraine is also involved in running alpha courses and shared of the openness among Ukrainians to God in this time. New churches have been planted and believers continue to gather and be encouraged. Another contact is involved in the establishment of a charity foundation focused on rebuilding houses, education institutions and civil infrastructure. There are many opportunities for the Ukrainian Church, as well as many opportunities for the global Church, to partner with them.

An INcontext partner living and working in Ukraine recently shared the prayer that Paul and Timothy write to the believers in Colossae in Colossians 1:11-14. They “ask God to give [them] complete knowledge of His will and to give [them] spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way [they] live will always honour and please the Lord, and [their] lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, [they] will grow as [they] learn to know God better and better. [Paul and Timothy] also pray that [the Colossians] will be strengthened with all His glorious power so [they] will have all the endurance and patience [they] need. May [they] be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled [them] to share in the inheritance that belongs to His people, who live in the light. For He has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of His dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.” (NLT) The global Church can similarly pray for the spiritual strengthening of the Ukrainian Church, who are facing severe strain due to the ongoing war and subsequent crises such as the recent flooding, but who are persevering in seeking the Lord’s will and living as children of light. These believers know that their struggle is not against people but against rulers, authorities and powers in this dark world and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Eph 6:12). They also know that this earth is not their real home, and that they belong to the Kingdom of God above all.

Please join us in praying for the following:

  • For those suffering from the recent attacks and flooding to be comforted and for all their needs to be met in their time of heightened vulnerability
  • For churches in Ukraine to be sustained and equipped to continue doing the good work they are involved in
  • For the Church in Ukraine to develop spiritual wisdom to live in a fruitful way that honours God, being strengthened to endure with joy as God’s people who live in the light and freedom of Christ


Map from 8 June: https://www.spglobal.com/commodityinsights/PlattsContent/_assets/_images/latest-news/20230612-infographic-ukraine-counter-offensive-commodities-oil-gas-grain-power-russia-war-shipping-urals-steel-black-sea.png

To support “Project Nightingale” in Ukraine, please visit our website: https://www.incontextinternational.org/projects-europe-central-asia/

To support the work of Ukrainian partners on the ground through the Crisis Response Network, see: https://crisisresponsenetwork.net/ukraine-war-refugees/