Ukrainian theologian and pastor Fyodor Raychynets (Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary) is currently in Kyiv, Ukraine—posting daily to his Facebook page with updates and reflections on the toll the Russian war on Ukraine has taken on innocent, vulnerable people. Women, children, and the elderly are sheltering in place without electricity, without water, without medication, and without any clear idea when or how this will end. Fyodor is a former student of Miroslav Volf's from their time at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Osijek, Croatia in the early 1990s. In this conversation, recorded Sunday, March 13, 2022, Fyodor shares his experience, now after 20 days of war, 20 days of being under siege, and 20 days of prayer and feeding the hungry. "I have to remind myself on a daily basis that we are humans and we are not just to remain, but it is so crucial in the midst of hell not to lose our humanity, but to preserve it and to show it and to demonstrate it, because that's what the people need the most at this moment."
Today we're sharing a conversation between Miroslav Volf and Fyodor Raychynets, a former student of Miroslav's when he taught at Evangelical Theological Seminary in Osijek, Croatia in the early '90s. Fyodor is a theologian and pastor in Kyiv, and is head of the department of theology at Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary on the northwest outskirts of the city, 20 kilometers outside downtown Kyiv.
We spoke to Fyodor on Sunday, March 13, 2022, just as he came in for the 8pm curfew after a day of feeding the elderly, the sick, weary soldiers, and women and children stuck in the basements without electricity, without clean water, without medication, and increasingly, without a clear idea of how any of this will end for them. That day Fyodor visited his seminary campus to find it had been shelled by three missiles, destroying much of the campus, including his office, leaving his library of books destroyed.
In this conversation, Fyodor shares his experience, now after 20 days of war, 20 days of being under siege, and 20 days of prayer and feeding the hungry.
Fyodor posts daily updates and reflections on his Facebook page, you can find a link in the show notes. Each daily post begins with developments in the war and how it's impacting him, his team of fellow ministers, and the city around him. He then reflects on the nature of war itself, and its impact on human life. He closes each post with a prayer for Ukraine, for freedom, for humanity. I'll quote just a few of his moving passages.
Day 7, "War is when the safest place to sleep in your apartment is the bathroom, although that's obviously for other purposes.."
Day 11, "War is when the most vulnerable suffer. That's when ordinary things, for example, going to the store and buying fresh, warm and fragrant Ukrainian bread (I've visited about 70 countries, but I've never eaten such delicious bread) become impossible. It's when you meet people every day who haven't eaten bread for 4 or 5 days, not to mention anything else...."
Day 15, "War is when evil reaches unseen dimensions and lowest forms, and when good manifests itself in its highest manifestations against the backdrop of total uncontrollable madness."
Day 19, "War is when you wake up in the morning, if you managed to fall asleep at all, not from the alarm clock or birds singing, but to the sounds of sirens, or bomb explosions that make you tremble. War is when your emotional state shifts from optimistic to pessimistic more often than in peaceful time, and the emotional range itself is much wider."
Day 20, written just a few hours ago. "War is when your understanding changes when not in theory but in practice you especially appreciate the moment "here and now" and live it more consciously..."
About Fyodor Raychynets
Fyodor Raychynets is a theologian and pastor in Kyiv, Ukraine. He is Head of the Department of Theology at Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in Leadership and Biblical Studies, particularly the Gospel of Matthew. He studied with Miroslav Volf at Evangelical Theological Seminary in Osijek, Croatia.
Follow him on Facebook here.
Evan Rosa: For the Life of the World is a production of the Yale Center For Faith & Culture. Visit us online at faith.yale.edu.
Fyodor Raychynets: So I have to remind myself on a daily basis that we are humans and we are-- not just remain --but it is so crucial in the midst of hell, not to lose our humanity. But to preserve it, and to show it, and to demonstrate it. Because that's what the people need the most at this moment.
Evan Rosa: This is For the Life of the World, a podcast about seeking and living a life worthy of our humanity. I'm Evan Rosa, with the Yale Center For Faith & Culture. Today, we're sharing a conversation between Miroslav Volf and Fyodor Raychynets, a former student of Miroslav's when he taught at Evangelical Theological Seminary in Osijek, Croatia, in the early 1990s. Fyodor is a Ukrainian, he's a theologian and a pastor in Kyiv, and is head of the Department of Theology at Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary on the northwest outskirts of the city, 20 kilometers outside downtown Kyiv. He spoke to Fyodor on Sunday, March 13th, as he came in for the 8:00PM curfew, after a day of feeding the elderly, the sick, weary soldiers, women and children stuck in the basements of Kyiv without electricity, without clean water, without medication, and, increasingly, without any clear idea of how any of this will end for them. That day, Fyodor visited his seminary campus to find it had been shelled by three missiles, destroying much of the campus, including his office, leaving his library of books destroyed. In this conversation Fyodor shares his experience. Now 20 days of war, 20 days of being under siege, and 20 days of prayer and feeding the hungry. Fyodor posts daily updates and reflections on his Facebook page, and you can find a link to that page in the show notes. Each daily post begins with developments in the war, how it's impacting him, how it impacts his team of fellow ministers, and the city around him. He then reflects on the nature of war itself and its impact on human life. He closes each post with a prayer for Ukraine, for freedom, for humanity. I'll quote just a few of his moving passages, but we'd encourage you to check out his Facebook page for a view from the ground, a view of the toll this war is taking.
Day 7: "War is when the safest place to sleep in your apartment is the bathroom, although that's obviously for other purposes."
Day 11: "War is when the most vulnerable suffer. That's when ordinary things, for example, going to the store and buying fresh, warm, and fragrant Ukrainian bread becomes impossible. It's when you meet people every day who haven't eaten bread for four or five days, not to mention anything else."
Day 15: "War is when evil reaches unseen dimensions and lowest forms, and when good manifests itself in its highest manifestations against the backdrop of total, uncontrollable madness."
Day 19: "War is when you wake up in the morning, if you managed to fall asleep at all, not from the alarm clock or bird singing, but to the sounds of sirens or bomb explosions that make you tremble."
Day 20, written just a few hours ago: "War is when you understand changes; when not in theory, but in practice, you especially appreciate the moment-- here in now --and live it more consciously."
Thanks for listening friends.
Miroslav Volf: It is so, so wonderful to be able to see you and speak to you. I remember, we go many years back. You were a student in Evangelical Theological Seminary in Osijek. And from then on, we've stayed in touch. And now my heart breaks, when I think where you find yourself: in a land of desolation and visited by very, very gruesome war. And you reminded me just prior to our conversation that your last name is Raichynets, which means "the maker of paradise." But you find yourself in hell right now. So can you describe a bit your experience and what you do.
Fyodor Raychynets: As you mentioned already, we've been together, in the early 1990s, in Croatia. So we have experienced slightly of that in Osijek. I never thought that I will have to experience it again in my life, in my country. Yeah. As you know, I had the war experience in Croatia, and then post-war experience in Bosnia. The rebuilding, the reconciliation process, and especially helping to the mothers of Srebrenica. Many times. And I never thought... Well, I was joking when I was coming back to Ukraine. I thought I said it publicly, that "I am returning to the most peaceful country in the world." And here we are.
The small town, satellite town, which is just 10 kilometers away from us, where is my apartment... I don't know what's happened to my apartment. I don't know what happened to our church building because we cannot go there. It is now controlled by the Russian troops. But the video footage that we get daily from that city, it looks much worse than Srebrenica. So that's the condition. Now the frontline goes through the place. Once the most beautiful part of Kyiv, which is northwest of Kyiv. It is where the old communist regime workers used to have a relaxation zone. That's where our seminary was located. Now it is the frontline because the Russian troops are trying to get closer to the city line, to Kyiv, from the northwest.
And so there are two mistakes. One, when the US government and UK government warned us about the impending full-scale invasion of Russian troops, we thought that they were exaggerating. You know, we thought that it is just impossible. The second mistake was that I never thought that they will invade Kyiv from this direction, the direction where we are located. And why they are invading from this is because Belarus allowed their land to be used for invasion. So basically Ukraine is not attacked by one country. It is attacked by two countries. Well, Belarus is swallowed by Russia. So whether it is still an independent country or not, it's a questionable thing, but we are attacked by the two countries at the same time.
Then yesterday, this hitting our campus by three missiles added to my experience of this situation. Why I stayed? Well, even before, when we were talking about the possibility of war, I said to all my colleagues that I will stay to the end, though I have no idea what the end will look like. And I still have no clue how the end will look like in Kyiv. I don't know whether, Miroslav, you know, or not, but I lost my wife last year.
Miroslav Volf: I do know that. I'm so sorry for that. Oksana that was such a wonderful, wonderful human being and wonderful partner.
Fyodor Raychynets: Yes. So we suffered greatly from COVID. And I survived. She did not. It was a big tragedy for me, for our school, because she was just a person that is hard to replace. So why I stayed? Because I said, you know, in the war, as I know from the Balkans, there is a frontline, but there is a rearguard. And in these rearguards, there are so many things to do. So many things to be useful. So we decided that when the war started, we will build a small volunteers group and we will just serve to the people who suffered the most from the war. And these are the elderly people. We feed them because they are in the basements. They have no idea what's going on outside the world. And they're just there. Blocked. They are scared to death. So many of them could never dream that they will experience a war again in their lifetime. They are there hungry, without electricity, without water. So what we decided to do is we decided just to provide to these people.
A few days ago, we would still help mothers with children. But at the same time, most of them have been evacuated. And we have helped hundreds of people to be evacuated from Kyiv to the western parts of Ukraine. And hopefully, them, they go to Poland, to Hungary. I'm in contact with many churches in Croatia and they are offering their assistance to welcome people, to welcome refugees to Croatia. So we decided to stay and to be of help to those who needed the most. So these are the elderly people.
Also, we know that not many churches are happy with that, but we are of great help to the Territorial Defense Group. We are trying to provide the necessary things. Medicine, hygiene stuff, clothing, shoes. We don't supply the weapons or anything like that, but there are many needs beside that to be helpful with. So I just decided to stay and help and to be of help. And as we experienced for these 18 days, the rearguard matters a lot to the frontline. And if there are these people, volunteers who are helping with all the necessary things, then the people in the frontline, they feel supported. And they want to protect us. They want to fight for these people and protect us. So basically, sorry for long description, but that's the description of the situation. That's my decision. Thanks to God, I was able to evacuate my children. So my daughter, this morning, landed in Bordeaux, in France. Some of my friends welcomed her there. And my son, he stayed with my mom in the most western part of Ukraine, which is on the border with Hungary.
Miroslav Volf: Yeah. You know, you're speaking so movingly in your posts on Facebook about people who cannot get a taste of beautiful, fresh-smelling Ukrainian bread. So you spend time, you spend quite a bit of your energy also, distributing food. Is a hunger or a problem right now?
Fyodor Raychynets: It is a problem in those parts... but, well, you see, Kyiv is a large city. It's six and a half millions of population. So it's a huge cities. We went to the center of Kyiv. So there is one situation. Then we came back to the place where the seminary is located and we were under the heavy shelling. So, in this part, yes, the food is a problem. The water, clear water, is a problem now. The medicine to the elderly people is unaccessible.
So we are trying. We have some pockets of people who are sitting in the basements and that's who we are trying, daily... It is getting dangerous. Because two less days, we were led into the area on our own responsibility. The military guys, they said, "It is not safe to go there anymore. And we can let you, as a priest, as a pastors...we won't stop you. But you are going there on your own responsibility. We warn you, and it's up to you to decide what to do." So we risked it. We risked it, and we were talking on the way back, "Is it worth that degree of risk?" But the situation changes not by days, but by hours. So we don't know. We don't know what tomorrow will look like.
Miroslav Volf: But there's much destruction right now there, is that right?
Fyodor Raychynets: Yes. Yeah. And today it was heartbreaking because our seminary was hit already. We are. So, it's one missile hit. Then it explodes. And the radius of explosion, it's like 30, 50 meters. So all the windows would just go off. And so you have a lot of broken glass all around, broken bricks, scattered trees. So that's how it is. Let me put it in one word: it's an apocalyptic scene, you know? If you want to watch a movie with an apocalyptic scene, you can make it now there.
Miroslav Volf: I was really struck. Actually, I'm looking at it now on your Facebook. You, together with two other priests or ministers standing, and you're serving a communion. And immediately what came to mind is the question was, "Well, what's happening at that moment? What does this communion stand for and symbolize?" How did you experience, how did the people to whom you served it, experience it? What does Christ's body, given for the life of the world, mean in that moment?
Fyodor Raychynets: Well, we were invited first on Thursday evening to go to serve to the military people a Lord's Supper. And we went there and it was... It was an overwhelming experience for me, because, in the Balkans, I started to believe in what we called an open Lord's Supper: when everyone is welcomed, and when there is something scandalous in the Lord's Supper, how it takes place. Because there are always people who should not be there by our theological perspective or our theological beliefs and so on and so forth.
And when we went there, and, whenever I'm in that kind of situation, and I am to serve the Lord Supper, I always ask people-- whoever, whatever church they are, or maybe they're not church people at all --I will come to them with the bread, and I will say, "This is the body of Christ broken for you." They should just say "Amen." And I think that whenever they say "Amen," they agree. That body of Christ was broken for them as well. And whenever I see, especially yesterday, when, as I was serving the Lord's Supper, I was explaining to them, there was apparently a person who has no religious background whatsoever. And as we were serving to them there, he was commenting on what we were doing. We just said to them, "That's how we do it. We just come to you and we say, 'This is the blood of Christ shed for you.'" And when he said "Amen," it was a moving experience. And I believe that we are just the instrument in this kind of situation. And there is a much bigger, invisible presence of God's grace which can do something that we cannot do.
For me in this kind of situation, it is most important to make this leap of faith, a step of faith. And to do what the people ask for. And because they ask us that they would like, before the battle, they would like to take part in the Lord's Supper, we said we will do it.
And I know, and that's why I said that. Because I always end my posts, "That, and everything else, after the victory," you know? So yesterday's post, I made an old theological debate about it, "After the victory." I know that there will be a lot of disagreements and critics and I'm labeled for all these years in the Ukraine as a liberal. Whatever. I don't know what it means. But it doesn't matter here. I know that there will be unhappy Christians. That there will be unhappy righteous people about what we do, but we just do because we were invited to do. We think that's the right thing to do, and we did it. And then all comments "after the victory," you know?
Miroslav Volf: That's very good. Leave it to the hands of that Christ, whose death, and also resurrection by implication, you have proclaimed.
Fyodor Raychynets: Yeah.
Miroslav Volf: Yeah. And in terms of the destruction, and the war itself, you and your posts laid squarely at the feet of Putin. How much do you think that that's a single man's obsession? And how much do you think it's a larger shared project?
Fyodor Raychynets: Well, it's a good question, I think. I was, today, very disappointed by reading the news from Russia that 700 rectors, or presidents of Russian universities, signed a letter to support Putin's war.
So obviously it is not just Putin's problem. It is a wider problem. And when the intellectuals support that kind of aggression, we have a serious problem. Not just with the one, as we call him, a bunker dictator. You know, a person who has closed himself in a bunker. And obviously he has lost a sense of reality. He has lost contact with the world. But watching some video footage, when journalists would go out on the streets of Moscow and St. Petersburg, and these are the places where most of the cultural elite, most of the art elite, most of the political elite would reside... And when they ask people what they think about the war in Ukraine, these are very disappointing answers for us. Because they obviously tell us that it is not just the one obsessed person. He has support in that kind of aggression.
And it is historically rooted, because Ukrainians were always a pain in the back to the Russians because of our free will. We love freedom. We love that sometimes this freedom get us to chaos, you know? To political chaos, to whatever chaos, but that's how we are. That's the Ukrainians. And this love of freedom, this love of democracy, this love of, you know, when we can allow ourselves to elect a clown to be our president! That is something that bothers Russians very much.
And I think that there is, let me put it this way: there is this collective Putin. Let me put it this way. It is not just one obsessed person. Because our elite is trying to contact their elites to say, "People go out to the streets. Tell that you are against this cruel war, that you are against this brother-killing 'love' and war," and so on and so forth.
And, you know, we are just different. We would never... We would put it this way: the problem of Russians is that they have a king in their heads. And the problem of Ukrainians is that they don't have any kings in their heads. And that's very briefly. Because we, whenever we sense that our president is becoming an emperor, we will just get him out of office very quickly, like we did in 2014. And so in our situation, we cannot have Putin. In their situation, they can have only Putin. I would put it this way.
Miroslav Volf: You mentioned intellectuals, and I'll come to the religious leadership just in the moment. Intellectuals are often spineless, you know? Most of us. And we have to admit that. But maybe, since we are talking about those entire cultural milieux that make this war possible, how do you judge the Orthodox Church? Obviously, the Patriarchate in Moscow, Patriarch Kirill, is fully, fully supportive. But is it widespread, so that one can say that the Russian Orthodox church is in favor of the greater Russia? Is the Russian Orthodox Church involved, so to speak, in a Russian imperial project? In Putin's imperial project?
Fyodor Raychynets: Well, I think yes. Directly. Though it would not publicly be directly involved.
But Patriarch Kirill, he is fully supporting Putin. Because I know some of my friends, from the World Council of Churches, would send me some attempts to contact Patriach and ask him to voice, at least voice, his position. Whether for, or against the war, but to make that position publicly clear. Well, there is a silence. But, as you know, the silence in the time of moral crisis is... You know, as Martin Luther King used to say, that there is a special place in hell for these kinds of people who pull or choose neutrality in the times of moral crisis.
But another example: in Ukraine, we have three branches of Orthodox Church. Well, now we have two, but there is a small part of the third branch of Orthodox Church. But there is one which we call the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate.
Miroslav Volf: Yep.
Fyodor Raychynets: And even these parts of the Church had a very clear position on the war.
It is understandable because if they would not have a clear position, that would be the end of that church in Ukraine at the moment. But on the other side, we have the Russian side which keeps silent. But what we are bothered as evangelicals is that not only the Orthodox Church is silent, but the key leaders of evangelical churches, they keep silent too. And that's what bothers us a lot.
As we say, in Ukraine, the war did not start 18 days ago, it started eight years ago. And for all these eight years, they would support Putin in his imperial ambition to swallow Ukraine. But what bothered us the most is that Ukraine is not his final goal. And that's what Europe doesn't get, and that's a pity.
Miroslav Volf: Which, one never quite knows. Ambition ends up being endless, at least pushing NATO back to where NATO was before the Soviet Union fell apart.
You mentioned also in your posts-- I loved your prayers in there. It's always a part of your post.
Fyodor Raychynets: I have. I put it in a very simple structure to briefly describe the situation and my feelings. Then to make one statement about what the war field's like. Then I always end with the prayer. And prayer is always situational. It has either to do with what we experienced, or what we are going to do that day. That's how I decided to make my posts.
Miroslav Volf: We noticed also on the structure of your posts. Which, I think structure is very, very compelling. Because we want to hear what's going on, but we want to also see where the light might come in, in terms of prayer. But I was struck also, obviously, that there are very concrete needs that people have. This is under incredible pressure people withstand all the time, including you, but there is a recurrent prayer that, that you mentioned, and that is the prayer for our humanity to be preserved in the midst of this unrelenting evil. Can you say more about that?
Fyodor Raychynets: Well, yes, that's my personal appeal and the fear at the same time. Because I see how I, myself am easily overwhelmed with the negative emotions. Especially when we hear some news about newborn children who suffered, mothers in the maternity houses, being hit by the missiles. When I see on a daily basis our literally helpless people, who have to suffer because of someone's obsession with power, with the desire, uncontrollable desire to crush someone's will. And at some point I am scared for myself. That I would not, in the midst of this hell, lose that humanity. So I have to remind myself on a daily basis that we are humans and we are-- not just remain --but it is so crucial, in the midst of hell, not to lose our humanity. But to preserve it, and to show it, and to demonstrate it. Because that's what the people need the most at this moment. So we are trying to. And I, if you have sensed or not, but I'm trying to stay positive with my posts, because I don't want the outrage, the negative emotion, my anger to take control over the situation. Because I think that's what our enemy wants. And that's what we cannot let happen.
Miroslav Volf: I was just thinking it would be the second victory of the enemy, or second act of aggression, if one lets that be a victory. Because first is violating of the land, violating people, violating our souls. And the second is a shaping, misshaping our reactions to what has happened and robbing us of our humanity. That, that seemed to me so important.
Fyodor Raychynets: And that's why these crying eyes of the elderly people, or these hearts of the soldiers that I get on a daily basis, that what makes me... That's what reminds me. That's what we have to stay strong, is preserving our humanity in the midst of this inhumane condition, inhumane situation. We cannot allow that to happen.
Miroslav Volf: You are a person of strong faith and you're also a theologian. And as you are now immersed in this situation, how do you experience it? Maybe you can speak to where you see the challenges of faith, how faith is challenged? Or where you might see that faith provides some consolation, energy to sustain oneself? How is the faith there faring, squeezed in the evil situation?
Fyodor Raychynets: Well, first of all, I don't think that I'm a person of a strong faith. I've struggled with my faith along the way as a theologian, as a pastor. Because for me, it was always important in theology, in our conviction, to be sincere. Well, to the extent that it is possible. But it is challenging to sustain a faith in the situation where there is a sense that you cannot control anything that is happening. You can not change anything. You cannot impact on the situation that it would change in the way you would like. But on the other hand, I know I will be contradictory, but that's what theology for me is, very contradicted. But on the other hand, I think that in this situation, when you have control of nothing, when you are laying in your bed and you don't know whether the place where you stay tonight will be preserved until the morning, and when in the morning you are tired and you don't want to do nothing, you just want to sit in some safe place, and just even not think to go out. But then you remember these people and you remember their needs, and then you get some phone calls, what they need. And... And you... you just trust the Lord that, I will go. And if I die, well, at least I die for the right cause. I was trying to help someone. So it's not as simple as it may sound, but as today we, you know, it's... Your faith is challenged by this simple statement of a soldier who says, "You go there on your own responsibility." And that's it. And then you either go or you stay. You either are afraid to go, or you risk your life and you go because someone needs your presence. Someone needs your smile. Someone needs your shake. Someone needs your heart. And these are not your relatives. These are the people you did not know about their existence few days ago, or maybe you have no clue about their existence yesterday, but then there is this bond with these people. And you cannot lay them down. You cannot betray them. You are a priest, you are a pastor. And you know, that's not whole 'nother story, but so many pastors have left Kyiv right in the beginning of the war. I don't know how they will come back, how they look into the people's eyes when they left them behind in this miserable situation.
So that's not a strong faith. That is a faith the challenges you on a daily basis: "Okay. You will go or you will stay in, safe." I got hundreds of, like, yesterday, I can quote it. A friend of mine from England, she says, "I know you will not do it. I know you will not listen to me, but what I wish you would now dress like a woman and leave your country." You know, because as a man I can not leave it. I have friends in the US who have found lawyers and they would like to help me to immigrate from the country, and I have friends in Canada and elsewhere who said, "Fyodor, run away. Save your life." And that also challenges your faith. That also bothers you. That also haunts you, these invitations. Just to get yourself to a safe place. You can be useful somewhere else, not just here. So, there is no strong faith at all. There is a challenge. There is a challenge on a daily basis when the soldiers warn you, when the people warn you, when your mother calls you, and tells you that, "What? Are you, are you crazy? What are you doing there? Come home. It is safe here. Your son is waiting for you here." So you're challenged. Your faith is challenged, not just by the circumstances, by the situation, but by your loved ones. Your closest ones. I recall Jesus's word that those who are in your family, they will give you more headaches in your faith and so on and so forth. So, yeah, that's how I read the gospel. I read the gospel of Jesus, when he gets out of the desert, that was not the end of his temptation. That was just the beginning. And he would be tempted throughout the gospel by the closest ones, by those who would be next to him all the time. They will tempt him not to live the way he lived, not to take the path he took and so on and so forth. So my faith is challenged, not by the war so much, and by the situation, but by my relatives and friends around the world.
Miroslav Volf: Well, those are hard, hard decisions. But I'm hearing you saying, faced with obviously complete uncertainty and fear, you choose to stay with people whose faces you don't know, whose faces you might see once or twice, and be there for them and be for the country. What I hear is the words from 1 John: "Love conquers all fear." And it's not some kind of easy bravery. It requires, as you described, decision moment after moment in the situation, but it happens.
Fyodor Raychynets: Yes, I will dare to put John's statement in different words, which is more relevant to me: it is not that love conquers fear, but it corrects the fear. It challenges your fear. I would put in this way, rather.
Miroslav Volf: Goes around it, right?
Fyodor Raychynets: Yes, yes, you got it.
Miroslav Volf: I see. I see what you mean. We're keeping you for a long time and I obviously want to continue this conversation because I feel like I'm close to you and reminded of how much time we've spent together. But you need to rest. And I remember also one of your posts. You have used the greeting, greeting your readers, "Shalom from Kyiv. Shalom from the place of no shalom." You are wishing something to, obviously, Ukraine, but also to others out of the deep place of destruction and hatred. And I want to wish that back to you. To yourself personally, and to your country, to your fellow citizens. At the end, can you tell us something that we might be able to do for you? How could we serve your cause?
Fyodor Raychynets: Well, I think that you already did by reaching out to me, and by talking to me. As I said to the bishop, the Catholic bishops, that today is such that it is so good when you have someone to talk to in these difficult situations. So reaching me out, talking to me, asking me some questions. It is already of a great help to me at these uneasy times.
What else would be helpful is that, if you could, communicate our message to your audience and that the people, your audience would know what the situation looked like. Not just from the news, from just the media, but from simple people, like we are, who are trying to make a small difference in our small world, the world that we are part of and the world that we can impact.
And it is funny how every day when we go through the block posts, we always greet our soldiers with a smile. We always bring them something. Chocolates or whatever. Something good. Just to make their day different, you know? And we say we are from the church. And I think that those people, they will remember that. The war will stop. This madness will end sooner or later, but there were these crazy people from the church, you know? Driving around, bringing chocolate, bringing croissants, bringing coffee. Bringing, you know, apple juice, orange juice. Something small, encouraging them, telling them that we pray for them on the daily basis that we... Just to hug them, it makes a day different.
Because as you know, in the wartime, your emotions are jumping. You are too optimistic, then you are getting too pessimistic. And then the situation changes because you went to the center of the city and it looks, well, it looks optimistic. Then you went back to your seminary camp. Well, it looks too apocalyptic, too pessimistic and so on and so forth.
Just, you know, you can broadcast these stories of these simple people who are trying to make a difference. I was on a Canadian interview a few days ago and they asked me the same. I said, well, we know how the Western society works. And if there is public pressure on the government, it is not like Russia that ignores public pressure at all. But in the Western part of the world, in the liberal democracies, the public can make the government do something.
And the only message we would like to communicate is, first, they should not be afraid of Putin because the Ukrainians exposed the second military force in the world is not the second military force in the world. It was just a bluff, big Putin's bluff. They thought that in two or three days, they will occupy the Ukraine. They will occupy Kyiv. If they will kill our president, they will change the government, and they will control the Ukraine. Well, now we are on 18 days of confronting this super military power and it is not as strong as we were told. So that's the first thing. And I think that now that the big generals... I've been to special forces in the Soviet Union. I mean, I know how it looks like from inside. That's the first thing. The NATO can see that it is not as strong as they thought.
The second thing is, he will not stop in Ukraine. So when we are asking, when we are begging the Western wall, "Close our sky," that is something that we would like them to help us. But, you know, we see that in 18 days, as I put in my yesterday post, that there is something that I am
disappointed with the West. And that is that they are with us, they have compassion. They "Sincerely, would like to help us." But, I don't know what's wrong with the policy in this world. But we cannot square one crazy dictator. So something is wrong with this political order. And there is something to work on. And that's what, if we, as Ukraine, now expose this, well, then maybe they can get on and work something with it.
Miroslav Volf: Thank you so much, Fyodor. I hate to break this. I feel so enriched in your presence and my prayers are going to be with you. We'll advertise, publicize this as much as we can. And if in other ways we can help, please let's stay in touch.
Fyodor Raychynets: As you remember, I visited your office in 2013, in Yale, when I was working on my commentary on Matthew, and I hope that after victory, I will come back.
Miroslav Volf: I hope so. I hope so. And I pray
Fyodor Raychynets: It was an enjoyable time to speak with. And let's stay in touch.
Miroslav Volf: Let's do. Okay. All the best to you.
Fyodor Raychynets: Bye.
Miroslav Volf: Bye.
Evan Rosa: For the Life of the World is a production of the Yale Center For Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School. This episode featured theologian and pastor Fyodor Raychynets and Miroslav Wolf. I'm Evan Rosa, and I edit and produce the show. For more information, visit us online at faith.yale.edu. New episodes drop every Saturday. Sometimes, midweek.
If you're new to the show, welcome, friend. Hit subscribe in your favorite podcast-listening app, and we'd love your feedback. Ratings and reviews in Apple Podcasts are particularly helpful, but we're just as happy to hear from you by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We read each comment and do our best to respond and improve the show, bringing you the people and topics that you want to hear. And if you're a regular listener, it's a huge honor that you stick with us from week to week. So I'll ask you to step up and join us. Help us share the show. Behind those three dots in your podcast app, there's an option to share this episode by text or email or social media. If you took a brief moment to send your favorite episode to a friend, or share with the world, not only would you be supporting the show, you'd be sparking up a great conversation around stuff that matters with people that matter.
Thanks for listening today, friends. We'll be back with more this coming week.