UK Christian organization holds prayer vigil for Ukraine

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Kendall Staton

On-campus Christian organization CRU held a prayer circle outside of UK’s Memorial Hall March 4 to discuss topics such as Ukraine citizen safety, world leader competence and military care.

The prayer began at 3 p.m. with presenter Chandler Wilcox, a broadcast journalism major. Wilcox led the small group in praying for Ukraine, along with help from neuroscience major Emily Johnson.

Student participants started to file in shortly after 3 p.m. By 3:02 p.m., there were six participants along the outside theater steps. By 3:05 p.m., nine participants, along with the two prayer leaders, were present.

While most participants were a part of CRU, formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ, students from across campus were welcome to come.

To give time for more students to show up, Wilcox chatted with the assembly of students. From one person’s “fresh” haircut, to a story about a lost mini Bible, Wilcox encouraged discussion.

By 3:10 p.m., the prayer circle was in full swing. Though no more participants had arrived during the short discussion window, Johnson suggested the prayer should begin.

Wilcox opened the session by reading a passage from the book of Matthew. With background noise from crowing birds and wailing sirens of emergency vehicles, he spoke of how Ukraine is in need of prayers.

“While we sit here, we can still go on throughout our daily lives. But [Ukrainians] are fleeing from missiles and gunshots,” Wilcox said. “So that’s why we’ve gathered here to pray.”

Wilcox turned the floor over to Johnson, who opened with a thanks for those who gathered with them to pray. She began with prayers for world leaders in Ukraine and others who must make decisions on how to react to Russia’s attacks. She prayed for world leaders to have wisdom, strength, and the Christian God’s helping hand.

“I want to pray for the leaders in Ukraine as they’re deciding how to protect their country and their people,” Johnson said.

After this time of introduction, Wilcox and Johnson opened the floor to student participants to pray out loud among the group.

While no one was quick to speak, Joshua Gaw, a marketing major, soon began to pray for the resolution of conflict within Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s ideology.

“I pray that you be with Putin and the Russian leaders and give them wisdom to make the right decisions for their people and Ukraine and for the world,” Gaw said. “Spark something in their minds to make them value peace.”

Gaw continued on to pray for the leaders of NATO countries, voicing his hope that they will soon send more aid to the people of Ukraine.

After Gaw’s addition to the prayer, there was silence before Wilcox shared another passage from the Bible. This passage transitioned the topic of prayer to safety of soldiers involved.

Wilcox began with a statement on how scared all troops must feel, and Johnson agreed that their life is hard. After this short conversation, Wilcox pleaded to his God for leaders in Russia to stop.

“It all goes down to the Russian government,” Wilcox said. “Just stop the aggression. We want peace.”

After words from Johnson, Wilcox went on to read another passage, speaking of how Christians believe their God was able to calm a raging storm at sea.

“I think for many Ukrainians right now, they’re in that storm. It’s pretty much a tsunami wave going up and down,” Wilcox said.

Johnson transitioned to the final topic of prayer, protection of Ukrainian citizens. Calling their God ‘a God of peace’, she asked for miracles to be performed in Ukraine to take away the fear and danger in the current situation.

Gaw took the floor again, this time to give thanks for the war. While he stated it is difficult to give thanks in a time of violence, he believes there will be a positive outcome.

Nods of agreement arose from prayer participants as Gaw spoke on the ultimate good he is sure will come from the conflict.

“We thank you for this war because you’re using it for good,” Gaw said. “Ultimate good.”

In closing his statement of faith in the war, Gaw called hope “more powerful than a bomb.”

Wilcox and Johnson said they were happy with the number of participants who showed up in support of Ukraine. Due to organizing this event last minute, Johnson was just hoping for anyone to come.

Wilcox shared that he felt their impact reached further than those present at Memorial Hall.

“I think we inspired people that didn’t even come to start praying for Ukraine,” he said. “The goal is just to bring more attention to Ukraine.”