The Letter to the Speaker Johnson from two Ukrainian Baptist Conventions in the U.S.

In Shreveport, Louisiana, across the street from House Speaker Mike Johnson’s hometown church, an unusual billboard would pop up occasionally. During weeks when Congress was out of session and Johnson was home, it showed a picture of a bombed-out church in the southeastern Ukraine city of Berdyansk, next to a caption: “Speaker Johnson, ‘For a time such as this.’ Esther 4:14.”

March 18, 2024

The Honorable Mike Johnson

568 House Cannon Office Building

Washington, DC 20515


Dear Speaker Johnson,

We deeply admire the way your faith in Jesus Christ influences your decisions.

As Baptists who were born in Ukraine and live in the USA, we hope all together we see the world in a similar way as Christians. We would like to take a few minutes to tell you more about unprecedented persecution of Christians in Ukraine, an issue that doesn’t receive enough media attention. Mostly political, military, and economical sides of the full-scale Russian invasion in Ukraine are covered by media. To see full picture Russians invasion in Ukraine, we want to show you a religious point of view.

Since 1991, after the fall of the Soviet Union, Ukraine got independence, and evangelical Christians received great opportunities to flourish after the USSR atheistic era: many churches were planted, a lot of seminaries and Christian schools were opened, and this list can be continued. Before February 24th of 2022, Ukraine had the biggest number of evangelical Christians in Europe. After Russian full-scale, invasion the situation with evangelical Christians in Ukraine has drastically changed. Russians systematically wipe off all Ukrainian evangelical churches on occupied territories.

Vladimir Putin has been presented as a man of God by Russian media, but he most certainly is not. He was and still is KGB person. The Russian Orthodox church is the main and superior church in Russia. Other churches and religious groups in Russia, as well as Baptists, are in a shade of the Russian Orthodox church and controlled by the government. It is the same situation in Russia like was during the Soviet Union time that religious freedom was declared but in real life Christians were in prisons, churches were under huge pressing, and Evangelical Christians were claimed as American agents.

Putin and his regime associate Protestants, particularly evangelicals, with the United States and accuse them as American spies. The Russian Orthodox Church is an arm of the Kremlin, so Russian authorities falsely assume that evangelical ministers are working for the American government. In territories occupied by the Russian armed forces, occupation authorities have shuttered Ukrainian evangelical churches, suppressed independent religious activity, and persecuted and deported religious leaders.

As we write this letter, Russian soldiers and authorities continue to arrest, torture, and, in some cases, murder Ukrainian Christians for their faith. Since the start of the full-scale war in Ukraine, at least 26 Christian leaders have been killed for their faith according to a report on March 2023, 1 but actual number is much bigger. While Russia is persecuting people of many faiths in Ukraine, evangelicals are being targeted disproportionately. Protestants make up 4 percent of the Ukrainian population, but according to the Institute for the Study of War they comprise more than one-third of the documented incidents of Russian persecution. 2 Baptists are particularly hard hit. Only the Ukrainian Baptist Union reports the loss of some 400 Baptist congregations since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion. 3 Total numbers of all evangelical congregations were closed on occupied territory of Ukraine are bigger. As of December 1, 2023, 630 church buildings and sacred places were destroyed and damaged because of Russian invasion in Ukraine. 4

Behind all numbers and statistics there are lives of thousands of Ukrainian Christians who lost their close relatives, brothers and sisters in Christ. The stories of persecution are horrific, and it would be a crime to keep silent about it. There are a lot of Ukrainian refugees in the USA who are witnesses of persecution that Russians committed in Ukraine, and it is very easy to meet them and receive their reports.

It might be tempting to dismiss these cases. However, there are many cases of murders of Ukrainian Christians. Here is one of them. On November 22, 2022, a Pentecostal deacon in occupied Kherson region was abducted along with his 19-year-old son. Eyewitnesses to the abduction say the soldiers told the pastor, “Your church has no right to exist, as it has connections with America.” 5 Their bodies turned up four days later, almost too mutilated to be identified.

On March 8, 1983, at the 41st Annual Convention of National Association of Evangelicals, U.S. President Ronald Reagan referred to the Soviet Union as an “evil empire” and as “the focus of evil in the modern world”. 6 Because of right vision and motivation of the U.S. government at that time, millions of Christians in the Soviet Union and other countries of the Eastern Europe were freed of communist bondage in 80-s and 90-s. Now Ukrainian Christians are facing persecution, and we ask for help of the leaders of the U.S. government like you, Speaker Johnson, to pass the aid package for Ukraine as soon as possible. A delay with the aid package costs lives of Ukrainian Christians.

Speaker Johnson, we encourage you to use your speakership and indeed your voice to protect our brothers and sisters in Christ in Ukraine. Esther 4:14 reminds us that the Lord puts us in positions for pivotal moments like these.

We are counting on you, Speaker Johnson. Without America’s pivotal aid in 2024, Russia will begin to capture more of Ukraine, occupying it and erasing Christian churches and killing more believers.

You can count on our prayers, Speaker Johnson.

God bless you,

Roman Kapran

President of the Ukrainian Evangelical Baptist Convention in the United States

Sergey Pochapskiy

President of the Western Ukrainian Baptist Convention




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