Graphic images from Bucha, Ukraine, are shocking the world. According to CNN, they show the bodies of at least twenty dead men in the street, some of whom had their arms bound behind their back. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said, “This is genocide.” President Biden called for Vladimir Putin to be tried for war crimes.
NATO’s chief described the reports as “horrific” and said they represent “a brutality against civilians we haven’t seen in Europe in decades.” He also noted that the International Criminal Court has opened an investigation into potential war crimes in Ukraine so that “those responsible are held accountable.”
The fact that you and I are following this war so closely is part of what makes it “our first true world war,” in the opinion of New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. Anyone with a smartphone—and that’s nearly half the planet’s population, according to Friedman—can watch what is happening in Ukraine and express their opinions globally through social media.
Friedman also reports that Ukraine’s government has raised more than $70 million worth of cryptocurrency after appealing on social media for donations and that cyberwarriors are attacking Russia’s government, news, and corporate websites. He calls this conflict “World War Wired.”
America’s states are becoming “radically different”
Americans are joining the world in uniting against Russia’s atrocities in Ukraine at the same time we are witnessing a deepening chasm of division at home.
The Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocked yesterday, with all eleven Democrats supporting Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court and all eleven Republicans opposed. And a wave of legislation is making American states “not only a little different but radically different,” according to a UCLA law professor.
For example, when Idaho proposed a new ban on abortions, nearby Oregon approved $15 million to help cover the abortion expenses of out-of-state patients. When the governor of Texas ordered state agencies to investigate parents for child abuse if they provide certain medical treatments to their transgender children, lawmakers in California proposed a law making their state a refuge for transgender youths and their families.
Only two states—Minnesota and Virginia—have legislative chambers split between political parties. As more state governments are controlled by single parties, partisanship is deepening. If the Supreme Court rolls back federal abortion rights, we are likely to see a sharp escalation in political battles over abortion on the state level and between states.
Arabs and Jews working together in Israel
A common crisis can be a powerful force for unity and community.
According to President Biden, NATO has “never been more united” in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As extremist violence in Israel has escalated recently, Arabs and Jews are working together in unprecedented ways to forge a common future.
Ranchers from as far away as Wyoming gathered in South Dakota to pray for rain in the face of ongoing drought and its devastating consequences. Christianity Today reports that “pastors and churches across Ukraine are working to bring people the bread they need to feed their bodies and the bread they need for their souls.”
Poland and Romania have launched programs to help Ukrainian refugees integrate by providing housing, jobs, schooling, and personal kindness. Meanwhile, according to the Associated Press, “members of faith communities have been leading the charge to welcome the displaced” in America.
Why Jesus is praying for you right now
You may know that “Christ Jesus . . . is interceding for us” right now (Romans 8:34; cf. Hebrews 7:25). But do you know the subject of Jesus’ prayers for us?
The night before he was crucified, our Savior prayed “for those who will believe in me through [his disciples’] word” (John 17:20). That’s you and me. To this end: “That they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they may also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (v. 21).
Until we are as “one” as the Father and the Son, I believe the Son will continue praying to the Father for our unity “so that the world may believe” that the Father sent the Son. And I believe he wants us to join him in such intercession.
In a fragmented and war-torn world, our unity can be a compelling witness. Our community empowered by compassion can change the world one hurting soul at a time. And our unified intercession can empower our unified ministry in supernatural ways.
Baylor students pray for revival
The first Christians prayed together for God to grant them boldness to continue speaking his word (Acts 4:29). As a result, “when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness” (v. 31).
Paul asked the Thessalonians to “pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored” (2 Thessalonians 3:1). And he asked the Ephesians to pray for him “that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:19).
Are you praying for your fellow Christians to be so empowered? Are you asking your fellow Christians to pray the same for you?
Thousands of Baylor University students, joined by friends from other schools up to one hundred miles away, gathered recently at their football stadium for seventy-two hours to pray for revival and spiritual renewal. Their forty-foot by eighty-foot prayer tent was filled at times by standing-room-only crowds.
According to Charles Ramsey, director of campus ministries and associate chaplain at Baylor, “There were times when it was like a high-level festival of celebration. Other times, it was absolutely silent in the tent as students read Scripture and quietly prayed.”
How will you join them today?