OBU President Dr. Heath A. Thomas issued a call to prayer for all members of the Oklahoma Baptist University community to pray Feb. 25 for Ukraine and all areas of the world affected by war. He asked the OBU community to specifically lift up those who are hurting and suffering due to war and its effects, in Ukraine and elsewhere, in a special statement issued to the campus community Feb. 24:
Dear OBU Community:
Last night the world witnessed naked aggression as Russia invaded Ukraine. I am deeply concerned about this deplorable and wrong act. No doubt you experienced alarm and fear, as did I. President Biden has stated that America will not send troops into this arena, but America continues to provide aid to the Ukrainians on various fronts. I believe that he will be addressing the nation today.
We are reminded that war, and rumors of war, lie in wait, tensed and ready to pounce. The significance of this terrible moment should not be missed, as this is the most intense invasion of sovereign nation in Europe since the Second World War. This boiling cauldron has the potential of spilling out into other arenas on the world stage, and we should (at the very least) watch and pray.
We are aware that war abounds across the globe, from bitter conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, threatening to destabilize the horn of Africa, to the civil war raging in Yemen since 2014. Insurgency, conflict, and war mark our world and remind us that we are responsible to work for peace and pray for peace in our day.
When I was serving All Saints' Anglican Church in Bisley, UK, from 2003-2007, one of the regular features of our weekly service was the prayers of the people. In this time, one of our laypeople would lead the congregation in prayer. And a regular feature of prayer was a focus upon local, regional, and global conflict and war....bringing these tragic realities to the Lord. I think this is a good practice.
With this in mind, as a community, I am asking all of us to mark tomorrow, February 25, to pray for the Ukrainians as well as those who face conflict and war in our day. I am asking you to pray for:
- Peace in the region.
- Protection for those attacked and protection from aggression and greater loss of life.
- Peacemakers to arise and make a difference.
- A way forward with peace on the world stage.
And I would like to challenge all of us to pray for peace in our world regularly. To pray well, we must:
- Be awakened to our world. WAKE UP!! We cannot put our heads in the sand or become zombies to entertainment and escape when our world needs our agency. As moral theologian Oliver O'Donovan (University of Edinburgh) reminds us, moral agents are awakened to the world: we are part of a world that is bigger than you or me. Our individual stories are embedded in a world-stage and world-story.
- Be resolved to pray (and actually pray!!). "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thess. 5:16-18, NIV). Prayer is not a passive act but a primary and powerful action. Prayer enables us to know the mind and heart of God, know ourselves, and know our world. Prayer enables us to lift the needs of the day to the ONE who can bring peace in Christ.
- Be resolved to act for peace. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God" (Matt. 5:9, NIV). Peace requires us to attune our lives to the Prince of Peace, Jesus our Savior. As we attune our lives with Jesus', then we begin to be peacemakers who treat one another with attentiveness, love, and care. Are you a peacemaker? Look at the relationships around you.
Please know that I pray for you even as I pray about the horror of war in Ukraine. Students, you are those who will tackle these problems in the future. You are future shapers. May your action be better than ours. May you be peacemakers and be called blessed by our Savior.