Ukraine Conflict Hits Home for Texas Congregation

By Stan Friedman

DALLAS, TX (March 4, 2014) — Leonid Regheta says members of his congregation here are strongly divided about the turmoil in Ukraine, and moderating them can be “challenging.” The Ukraine-born Covenant project missionary now pastors River of Life Church, a non-denominational congregation that ministers to Russian-speaking area residents.

In an interview with a local radio station Regheta said, “Ukraine [as a country] is very diverse. The points of view of what is and what should be are very diverse, and to think otherwise would simply be wrong. My goal is not to just provide a platform for people to express their point of view, but to allow them to consider the validity of other points of view and at least have an attempt to find a common ground.”

Those views do not fall neatly along ethnic or national lines, Regheta noted, as different views can be held within the same families. In an interview with Covenant News Service, he said today, “I am surprised at how much division this conflict has caused between evangelicals of Russia and Ukraine. I am also surprised at how vocal some of the opposition to Putin’s action is in Russia among cultural elite.”

Regheta noted that on Saturday an interfaith group in Ukraine that included Jewish, evangelical, and Orthodox leaders among others, issued a letter that called on Russia “to come to its senses and stop its aggression against Ukraine, and immediately pull out Russian troops from the Ukrainian land.”

Despite their differing perspectives, the River of Life congregation longs for a quick end to the current crisis and a stable future. “We had a special time of prayer to lift up not only Ukraine but all other countries represented in our small congregation,” Regheta said. “We have Ukraine, Russia, Romania, Belarus, Latvia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, USA, Israel, and other countries represented, so we prayed for peace above all and humility for politicians of all countries involved in the conflict.”

The congregation hopes to reach out to the some 60,000 to 70,000 Russian-speaking immigrants living in the Dallas area, and its website is in Russian. Regheta’s parents brought him to the United States in 1989 when they arrived as religious refugees.

Regheta said he would like to see Ukraine establish itself as an independent country in the same way Finland did.

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