The Christian organization CRU on campus held a prayer circle outside UK Memorial Hall on March 4 to discuss topics including the safety of Ukrainian citizens, the competence of world leaders and military care.
The prayer began at 3 p.m. with presenter Chandler Wilcox, a specialist in broadcast journalism. Wilcox led the small group in prayer for Ukraine, with help from neuroscience major Emily Johnson.
Participating students began showing up shortly after 3 p.m. At 3:02 p.m., there were six attendees along the outside steps of the theater. At 3:05 p.m., nine participants, as well as the two prayer leaders, were present.
While most attendees were part of CRU, formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ, students from across campus were welcome.
To give more students time to show up, Wilcox talked to the student assembly. From one person’s “fresh” haircut to the story of a lost mini-Bible, Wilcox encouraged discussion.
By 3:10 p.m. the prayer circle was in full swing. Although no other attendees arrived during the short chat window, Johnson suggested the prayer begin.
Wilcox opened the session by reading a passage from the book of Matthew. With the background sound of birds chirping and the blaring sirens of emergency vehicles, he spoke about how Ukraine needed prayers.
“While we’re sitting here, we can go on through our daily lives. But [Ukrainians] run away from missiles and gunfire,” Wilcox said. “That’s why we gathered here to pray.”
Wilcox gave the floor to Johnson, who began with a thank you for those who gathered with them to pray. She began with prayers for world leaders in Ukraine and others who must make decisions about how to respond to Russia’s attacks. She prayed for world leaders to have the wisdom, strength and helping hand of the Christian God.
“I want to pray for Ukraine’s leaders as they decide how to protect their country and their people,” Johnson said.
After this introductory time, Wilcox and Johnson opened the floor for the participating students to pray aloud within the group.
While no one was quick to speak, Joshua Gaw, a marketer, quickly began praying for a resolution to the conflict within Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s ideology.
“I pray that you stand with Putin and the Russian leadership and give them the wisdom to make the right decisions for their people, for Ukraine and for the world,” Gaw said. “Arouse something in their mind to make them appreciate peace.
Gaw continued to pray for the leaders of NATO countries, expressing his hope that they will soon send more aid to the Ukrainian people.
After Gaw was added to the prayer, there was silence before Wilcox shared another Bible passage. This passage shifted the subject of prayer to the safety of the soldiers involved.
Wilcox began with a statement about the fear all troops must feel, and Johnson agreed that their lives were difficult. After this short conversation, Wilcox pleaded with his God for the Russian leadership to stop.
“It all depends on the Russian government,” Wilcox said. “You just have to stop the aggression. We want peace.”
After Johnson’s words, Wilcox went on to read another passage, talking about how Christians believe their God was able to calm a raging storm at sea.
“I think for many Ukrainians right now they are in this storm. It’s pretty much a tsunami wave going up and down,” Wilcox said.
Johnson moved on to the last subject of the prayer, the protection of Ukrainian citizens. Calling their God “a God of peace”, she asked for miracles to be performed in Ukraine to eliminate fear and danger in the current situation.
Gaw spoke again, this time to thank for the war. Although he said it is difficult to give thanks in times of violence, he believes there will be a positive outcome.
Prayer participants nodded in agreement as Gaw spoke of the ultimate good he is sure will come from the conflict.
“We thank you for this war because you are using it for good,” Gaw said. “The ultimate good.”
Concluding his statement of faith in war, Gaw called Hope “mightier than a bomb”.
Wilcox and Johnson said they were pleased with the number of participants who showed up to support Ukraine. Due to organizing this event at the last minute, Johnson was just hoping someone would show up.
Wilcox shared that he felt their impact reached further than those in Memorial Hall.
“I think we inspired people who didn’t even come to start praying for Ukraine,” he said. “The goal is simply to draw more attention to Ukraine.”