Praying power and staying power

Praying power and staying power

A humble prayer group has been supporting people in mission week in, week out, through more than two years of war

Photo: Prayer has been a vital part of support for people in mission in Ukraine, including Valery Alymov (pictured)

On Saturday night, a group of around 12 pray-ers from different churches gather online to hear from mission partner Alison Giblett in Ukraine and pray together for an hour. This isn’t a one-off. In fact, they have been meeting weekly for over two years.

Everyone joins from their own home and some of them have never even met in person, but being able to see each other on a screen is the next best thing to being together. Some say it feels like having a group of friends in their living room.

Getting started and growing

Their first meeting was held in spring 2022, after Russian forces entered Ukraine.

Though most missionaries and expats returned to their home countries for their own safety around this time, Alison felt called to stay, as Ukraine had been her home and community since God had called her to Kyiv in 2004.

Alison and about 40 others from her church, the Tabernacle of the Living God (TLG), travelled together from Kyiv and stayed in village locations, away from the attacks.

It was against this backdrop of crisis that Alison offered to host a Zoom meeting for some of her supporters from City Hope Church Bermondsey, to tell them more about what was going on and pray together for Ukraine.

Participants found the first meeting helpful and soon enough, it became a weekly event and was drawing supporters from several of Alison’s link churches as well as others who wanted to join in prayer.

The prayer group has followed Alison and her church community from their weeks on the road, through returning to Kyiv and figuring out how to do and be church in wartime.

The group has had the privilege of standing with Alison and her church in prayer as they have offered practical, spiritual and emotional support to people whose lives were and are torn apart by the war.

They have prayed for Alison and others as they have travelled to villages to help rebuild infrastructure and restore hope.

The prayer group allows these committed supporters to connect with a particular part of Christian ministry in Ukraine on a weekly basis.

“Hearing specific details about everyday life from people on the ground brings the reality so much closer,” shares John, a former missionary himself.

News from the ground

Every Saturday when they meet, Alison joins the call from Kyiv and shares updates from on the ground. She shares about the type of thing reported in the media – bombings or being under rocket attack – but also how they as a church have experienced God’s protection, love and care for them.

The faithful pray-ers get to hear about the church’s ministry, for instance last year when the church partnered with YWAM to build new homes for people who had lost everything, and ran children’s camps during the summer.

Sometimes the group welcomes a Ukrainian guest or two from TLG, including local partners Valery Alymov and Anya Manchuliak. Alison interprets back and forth between Ukrainian and English.

Valery, pastor of TLG and a former military serviceman, shares about his chaplaincy work with soldiers, many of whom are exhausted and desperate for the hope Jesus offers.

The chair of the meeting asks specific people to pray for specific things and the group works its way through the prayer requests.

Wider impact

At each meeting someone takes notes, which are later transcribed and circulated via email to other churches to enable others to pray too.

Many of those in the prayer group are also part of a larger group which is connected via the messaging app Signal. Here, notes from the Saturday meetings are shared with about 80 people, who also receive day-to-day updates, prayer requests and occasional photos.

Attending a prayer meeting every Saturday night – albeit in one’s own home – might seem like a big commitment. So what has kept the group continuing to meet for two years?

Some group members describe the gathering as the highlight of their week. Personal connection is a major factor – wanting to show support for Alison because they know her is a big part of what keeps people turning up week after week.

Alice and Keith, from a church supporting Alison, comment, “It is a huge privilege to be a part of this group of godly people.”

The war in Ukraine is such a challenging thing to pray for that it’s hard to know where to start. For this group, hearing from people on the ground gives them specific things to pray about, making it easier to engage with what’s going on and pray for the situation.

The group has meant a lot to Alison: “The fact that there are a group of people who care and understand at quite a detailed level has really helped me…. For me the prayer group has been a main form of support.”

And as war continues, so does this valuable support.

Pray together

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