The head of the Ukrainian Bible Society says that people in his country are searching for answers after months of devastating war with Russia.
Oleksandr Babiychuk lives in the ravaged city of Kherson, a key port city that is celebrating the withdrawal of Russian troops last Friday.
Bible Society staff have been able to re-enter their office for the first time since August but the return has been bittersweet – there are bullet marks everywhere and the rooms were full of vodka bottles.
Despite the victory for the city, the Russian retreat has prompted a lot of soul-searching and people are asking existential questions about the war, he says.
“We should continue bringing the Word of God, because war shakes the very foundation of people’s lives,” he said.
“They look for answers to crucial questions about why this war happened and why God allowed it.”
This has been confirmed by a rise in demand for Bibles since the start of the war.
Over the summer, the UK Bible Society sent some 168,000 Bibles and Scripture-based books to Ukraine.
Oleksandr said, “There are so many traumatised people who have experienced loss, of their family members, friends, their memories, their property.
“This is exactly the field where Bible Society has to work actively along with churches, because it is the word of God only that brings, comfort, and eventually reconciliation.”
There are also tensions now between Ukrainians who resisted Russian occupation and those who collaborated.
Oleksandr said the position of the Ukrainian Bible Society “must be balanced”.
“They will have to answer to the law, while we must find such words that could motivate them to bear responsibility to their own conscience and, on the other hand, they should feel that this is their country and their city, and they have to love and appreciate them even more than before the war,” he said.
There is much to do and the Bible Society must keep distributing Bibles, he says, adding, “Our responsibility is to work with churches to reach everyone in need of heavenly healing.”