As we watch on the situation in Ukraine, no doubt like me you feel completely helpless. There seems to be nothing we can do. We can use hashtags to say that we #StandWithUkraine and we can change our profile pictures to incorporate the Ukrainian flag on our social media but what good does that do? Isn’t it just virtue signalling? In this article I want to highlight a few things we can do.
We can virtue signal
The phrase “virtue signal” tends to get a bad reputation and be used derogatorily. That’s because we associate it with empty gestures that people make from comfort that cost nothing and are primarily aimed at showing how virtuous they are in order to win popularity with others who share the same outlook.
It has been suggested that hashtags and social media pictures fall into this category. However, I’m not sure. You see, I think there are a couple of important audiences who may well be seeing those images and message.
- Western Governments are having to make increasingly more difficult decisions about sanctions, arms provision and potentially other forms of involvement. The more involved they are in the conflict, the costlier those decisions will be back home. WE are already seeing fuel prices increase. We may well see food prices increase soon too, further inflation, tax and interest rate increases and even shortages of fuel and food that will make the recent Brexit/pandemic supply chain issues look like a picnic in the park. Politicians do take into account what they see on social media when making decisions. If our messages indicate that we are willing to experience hardship on this issue then the signal is not an empty gesture.
- Ukrainians including refugees and those who have stayed to fight and resist Putin see social media. So too do our brothers and sisters who have stayed with their churches to witness and to show love and care. Knowing that there are people who care and who haven’t forgotten is important to their motivation.
- Russians also see social media. These will include those in Putin’s government as well as ordinary Russians. It’s important that they know how the world sees the invasion.
We can give
A number of charities and organisations are helping to channel relief to support those who have stayed in Ukraine and those who have fled as refugees. Some schools, churches and other organisations are organising collections of toiletries. It is also possible to give financially.
I guess that quite a lot of my readers will want to give directly to churches and that this will seem a good way of getting help as quickly and directly as possible to where it is needed on the ground. This is important because the need is great. In my interview with Ryan Burton King last week he mentioned that his Father-In-Law’s church had already spent its mission budget for this year on providing immediate help to those devastated by the conflict.
You can give to the House of Gospel Church via Grace Baptist Church Woodgreen.
Secondly, the New Frontiers family of churches have a strong connection with Ukraine, especially through the Catalyst Sphere which has been involved in church planting. You can give through them by following this link
Thirdly, OM are also significantly involved in the region. You can support through them here:
Other Christian organisations who you can give through include:
The Bible Society are also encouraging us to support Bibles to Ukrainians hungry to know about Jesus in the midst of crisis.
We can welcome
Ukrainian refugees are going to need a welcome here in the UK. The UK Government are currently setting up a scheme which will enable individuals, organisations and churches to act as sponsors for Ukrainian refugees who will be able to come on a one-year visa initially. Could your church provide accommodation and welcome? There is talk in the media today that Michael Gove is planning to offer £350 a month to those offering accommodation. It might be possible that this could help further by enabling a church to match that in order to rent property for accommodation. To find out more about how your church can be involved check out:
The scheme is now up and running.
We can pray
As Christians, we believe that prayer does matter. We may not be able to work out quite how and why prayer works but over the years, we’ve seen in so many ways that it does as God has responded in ways best described as miraculous. Let’s keep praying for an end to this conflict that brings both justice and peace. Let’s keep praying for our brothers and sisters. Let’s keep praying that God will be glorified in the midst of this horrific war.