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As the situation worsens in Ukraine after Russia’s invasion of that country, American faith leaders of all denominations and backgrounds are expressing their thoughts and concerns as they offer prayers and hold services of behalf of the Ukrainian people.
Among those speaking out is Pastor Cristian Ionescu of Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church in Chicago, who himself survived persecution in communist Romania — as well as Russian oppression during his own life.
He was born in 1963 in Bucharest, Romania. In 1997, he escaped communist Romania as a religious refugee.
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For the past 20 years, he’s been senior pastor and founder of Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church in Chicago.
Since 2004, he’s been vice president of the Romanian Pentecostal Churches’ Union in the U.S. and in Canada.
In light of the Russia-Ukraine news, he shared a number of thoughts on the issue.
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“As a Romanian religious refugee, and coming from a country introduced to the communist regime via the Soviet Red Army after World War II, I can relate to the atrocious act of occupation of Ukraine and the pain inflicted upon the Ukrainian people,” he told Fox News Digital in an email.
“I pray for the whole world that this conflict may not result in a global crisis and war.”
For all of these reasons, he said that he is praying during this unfolding tragedy “that some sense will come to the leaders of Russia, particularly Vladimir Putin.”
Pastor Ionescu continued, “I pray that the international community won’t accept this act of aggression and will do everything in its power to stop it!”
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“I pray for the safety of the Ukrainian people and that they turn to God in these perilous times.”
“I pray for the whole world that this conflict may not result in a global crisis and war,” he also said.
And — “I pray that the world understands that the only way to peace, durable and complete, is a spiritual revival. [That means a] return to God and the Bible, and accepting Jesus Christs as King and Savior.”
‘Cannot even imagine’
The pastor wasn’t the only one who expressed fervent concern and thoughts for the Ukrainian people.
“All night, my phone has been blowing up with calls and messages. People are terrified,” Kyiv-born Katerina Manoff told Fox News Digital.
“Students are sharing videos of explosions, bombings, and missiles — not from their news, but from what they are seeing firsthand,” she also said.
“I have a team of 20-plus people and several thousand students in Ukraine.”
Manoff, an American based in the New York City metropolitan area, founded a nonprofit organization that connects young Ukrainians to English-speaking volunteers for free online language practice and cultural exchange.
“I am seeing photos of small children in bomb shelters. One of my friends had a baby just a few weeks ago,” she said. “As a mother of two young girls, I cannot even imagine how parents in Ukraine are feeling right now.”
“I also hope that Biden keeps the U.S. out of this mess.”
Manoff said that “as an immigrant, I was raised on the idea of the American dream, America as the good guy, the defender of liberty. I hope and pray to God that America protects and supports my country during its darkest hours,” she noted.
Hope ‘this can be resolved’
Mary Lou Haring of Wesley Chapel, Florida, told Fox News Digital, “My prayers are with all of the Ukrainian people, my relatives included.”
She said that her “hopes are that this can be resolved, but I don’t see Putin changing what’s happening until Ukraine is rejoined to Russia.”
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She added, “I also hope that [President Joe] Biden keeps the U.S. out of this mess.”