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Defenders Fund

Stand with Ukraine

Defend Religious Freedom & Support Victims of Violence

You can make a real difference!

On top of the horrific humanitarian crisis caused by the brutality and devastation of the Russian invasion, in areas occupied by the Russians and their supporters, non-Russian Orthodox Christians suffer “…slander, harassment, deportations, raids on worship services, robberies, forced closures of church-based orphanages, rehabilitation centers, charities, and seminaries, interrogations utilizing psychological and physical torture, and murder.”

 The Dean of the interdenominational

 Evangelical Seminary in Kyiv was recently killed by the Russians during the mass killings in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha.

Baptists have joined with Christians and people of good will to make a real difference in the lives of the suffering (see section below). Join us and our partners in standing with the persecuted and victims of violence in Ukraine.

Our initial Campaign Goal for “Stand with Ukraine!” is $50,000 in direct aid to those that need it most. Join us!

What is the Defenders Fund?

The Defenders Fund provides direct financial and resource assistance to victims of religious oppression around the globe and support to those local champions of human rights that defend and advocate for the imprisoned and oppressed. You can:

  • Join the Global Defenders Network as a legal defender or advocate.
  • Help raise awareness of critical issues and cases.
  • Donate directly.
  • Join or create campaign teams.
  • Host awareness and fundraising events in your church community or social network.

Your prayers, involvement, and contributions – in whatever form they take – can literally save lives and make the critical difference for suffering people who may otherwise have been abandoned or have no one to speak for them.

Faith Under Attack in Ukraine

While the world’s attention is on the violence and growing general humanitarian crisis in Ukraine due to the Russian invasion, another crisis of religious freedom is unfolding as Baptist and other non-Russian Orthodox churches and faith communities in Russian-controlled areas face widespread persecution.

Before the Russian invasion, Ukraine had the second-largest Baptist population of any European country, only slightly behind the United Kingdom. Nearly 90% of Ukrainian Baptists belong to the All-Ukrainian Union of Churches of Evangelical Christian-Baptists (AUС EСB). The Union included 3 seminaries, 2 universities and 15 Bible colleges, and “is estimated to have 150,000 conscious believers, and about 300,000 people that attend church services in more than 2,800 churches, with 3,160 clergy members.”[1]

Today, non-Russian Orthodox Christians suffer “…slander, harassment, deportations, raids on worship services, robberies, forced closures of church-based orphanages, rehabilitation centers, charities, and seminaries, interrogations utilizing psychological and physical torture, and murder.”[2] The Dean of the interdenominational Evangelical Seminary in Kyiv was recently killed by the Russians during the mass killings in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baptists_in_Ukraine

[2] Elliot, Mark R. (2022) "Putin's Invasion of Ukraine: What's Religion Got To Do With It?," Occasional Papers on Religion in Eastern Europe: Vol. 42 : Iss. 2 , Article 6.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.55221/2693-2148.2326
Available at: https://digitalcommons.georgefox.edu/ree/vol42/iss2/6"

Advocating for peace

  • Advocated for action by the U.S.

    Government.

  • Our UN representative spoke at the UN Human Rights Council in Ukraine about the need to protect religious freedom.
  • Conducted direct advocacy--meeting with the Romanian Prime Minister, Speaker of the Parliament in Moldova, and other government officials in Ukraine, Poland, and elsewhere.

Humanitarian Aid

  • Direct financial support: In less than a week, 21Wilberforce helped partners raise and send over $100,000 (and another $50,000 a week later) to local Baptist churches in Ukraine and border countries to distribute critical supplies and aid to Ukrainians under siege or refugees needing medical treatment. To-date, approximately $4,000,000 has been raised through the Baptist network, roughly $1 million per week.
  • In the first five weeks since the Russian invasion on February 24, 2022, some 650,000 Ukrainian people have been assisted by Baptist churches and groups in the Ukraine and neighboring countries. Current projections estimate that by the end of April more than a 1,000,000 refugees and people affected by the conflict will be assisted by this Baptist network.
  • By mid-April, 300 tons of aid have been distributed in just the past 3 weeks. Lorries bring collected supplies from collection warehouses outside of Ukraine to churches in Ukraine, where the supplies (food and medicine) are reloaded into smaller vehicles and transported to churches and Baptists groups to be distributed to refugees and local recipients as far east in Ukraine as are accessible.
  • The Baptist network is currently providing 51,000 beds a night for refugees, distributed in churches, campgrounds, seminaries, and families.

  • Provide funds and resources to local pastors and churches in distributing targeted assistance. While churches supply aid, resources, transportation, and housing, they have no support for their overhead and costs they incur (fuel, utilities, washing machines, bedding, food, etc.)
  • Support for religious prisoners and persecuted faith leaders and their families
  • Direct advocacy effort
  • Connecting regional and global network advocates for collaborative action.

Ukraine: Action & Aid

Learn more about what is happening in Ukraine, religious repression issues, and what you can do to get involved and make a difference.
Kharkiv, Ukraine: 18 March, 2022 - Employees of the State Emergency Service rake the rubble of the building of the Academy of Public Administration in Kharkiv
Kharkiv, Ukraine: 24 March, 2022 - A man near a destroyed house in Kharkiv — Photo by Fotoreserg
Kharkiv, Ukraine: 10 March, 2022 - Seven-year-old boy Vova, injured in the shelling stay in the hospital in Kharkiv — Photo by Fotoreserg
Click image above to view Getty Images' gallery of photos and videos of Russia's War on Ukraine.

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