Adventist Activist on the Front Lines of the Crisis in Ukraine
by Monte Sahlin
By Adventist Today News Team, March 4, 2014
Among the Seventh-day Adventists activists working for democracy in Ukraine was a Union College graduate. Serhiy Horokhovskyy returned to his homeland three years ago after completing his degree at Union College. In an interview with Adventist Today, Horokhovskyy said he was not part of any political organization or a militarized group. "I believe in peaceful protest," he said. "I believe that a Christian, like the Old Testament prophets, has to say what is wrong with the world not just ignore everything going on."
He went to Maidan, the central square in Kiev, "to protest corruption, lies, violence, laws against freedom and other acts that the [former] government tried to enforce on Ukraine. Our country chose the path of democracy and we believe that we elect the government to serve the people."
"Many people were hurt and robbed" by the political corruption and abuse of power. "As a citizen, I felt I had to say that [it] was wrong, unjust." Like Adventist young adults in many countries around the world, social justice is an important part of Horokhovskyy's faith, a tradition to goes back to the 1850s and the opposition to slavery and the temperance advocacy of founders Ellen and James White and Joseph Bates.
When the situation turned violent, "I knew that I had to be there … as a Christian. … I tried to protect the helpless, and … help the wounded." If it were not for his faith, Horokhovskyy said, "I would not go there to protest peacefully or I would not go there at all. I would stick to popular opinion, would not stand for what is right and not care for people who were hurt."
"I have seen true Christianity there," Horokhovskyy says of his experience with the demonstrations in Kiev. "I have seen people risking their lives for others. … War brings the worst and the best out of people."
Horokhovskyy said that there were other Adventists among the protesters and many were supportive, often using social networking media to describe the issues. They were "trying to show the truth to the world and helping to coordinate the help and the donations. Many church members donated food and clothes for the people" in the city square. "I have great respect for church members who offered their apartments for the wounded and injured."
Denominational leaders in Ukraine "condemned the violence" through official statements, "church members were allowed to exercise their rights," and "there were many prayer meetings all over Ukraine." Horokhovskyy told Adventist Today that there is a division of opinion in Ukraine on political issues, "but the sad part is that it is very artificial. It is created by the people interested in dividing Ukraine into two parts, using religious and language divisions for their own purposes.
A complete transcript of the interview can be seen here.