Learning to Pray from Ukrainians in Ukraine:
Ask God to Embarrass the Demons!
Years ago, I did my very first ever Missions trip to Ukraine—the land of my ancestors on both sides of my family.
The church I was serving sent me to teach emerging pastors and church planters some two years after their republic had been freed from 7 decades of murderous, crushing oppression under Russian (and in those days communist) leaders. Every church was a new church—the communists didn’t allow people to freely choose anything, unless they chose the party line.
And now, Ukraine was free.
Their freedom was new.
Their joy was profound.
Their worship was deep.
It was my privilege to teach those who were eager to learn—and what a time of learning we had.
I was teaching the book of Ephesians (having just completed my Masters’ thesis on the two S/spirit contrast in that book). Central to the teaching was that Jesus had embarrassed the power of the demons—had taken their attacks at controlling the helpless and turned that into resurrection power from heaven, to give them victory over the dark powers, and every form of evil.
In short form, I taught them to pray for God to “embarrass the demons”. That teaching was the theme of the whole book; it was beautifully summarized in the sister book Colossians:
In this way, He disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities.
He shamed them publicly by His victory over them on the cross. Colossians 2:15 NLT
Each day, I would teach the students from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Then in evenings, they would get into a bus (donated by Norwegian Christians), set up a tent (donated by American believers), and preach the gospel in neighboring towns and villages. Then, after seeing people come to faith in Christ, they would send one of the students to form their new congregation.
While I was there, I watched 1000 Ukrainians embrace faith in Christ. It was a revival that included converts from the military outpost in the city of Ovruch (about an hour from Chernobyl). One night I spoke and 60 people responded to the gospel—about 2/3rds of them from the Ukrainian army.
It was awe-inspiring to see those starving for faith embrace the love of God.
Of course, we brought Bibles, Christian literature, Children’s curriculum to teach their families after each decision was made. In those days, a Bible was worth 3 months wages! Our goal was to put a Bible into every home we reached.
Things were going well, until the army commander heard that a colonel from the detachment in Ovruch had testified—and that soldiers under his watch had committed to Christ. The (Russian) army commander issued an order that none of the soldiers in that detachment attend any meetings, and that those who did would face court-martial.
It was a major blow to the students (and to the town of Ovruch).
It meant that about ½ of our attendees could no longer show up. It also meant that those who were to receive Bibles and helps the next day wouldn’t get them.
Still, the students decided to persevere. They prayed and sensed that they were to continue with the outreach in the town.
That night, I went with them.
Then, while travelling there, our bus broke down. In Ukraine in that day, there were no garages, and no motor association to help you at roadside. None of us could get to the event—and we had the musicians, and the preacher with us.
The students were discouraged. They were discouraged until one of them looked at me and asked this question:
“Teacher, this seems like Satanic attack. Should we ask God to embarrass the demons?”
Before I could answer, the twenty students started to shout, right out loud. They said, “Apostle Paul taught this! Teacher David has shown us this is in the Bible. We should pray this way!”
And so, they did. The Pentecostals shouted. The Baptists knelt and bowed their heads—and all twenty of them began to pray, “God the enemy of our soul is trying to stop us! He could not stop you! You embarrassed death by rising. You embarrassed sin by sending your Holy Spirit! Embarrass the demons! Put them to open shame. Get us to Ovruch! Show us how to get these Bibles to the new Christian Soldiers.”
Some shouted. Some spoke in hushed reverence. Some walked and jumped. Some prostrated themselves right on the ground. And they prayed.
Something shifted as they prayed. Faith began to be borne in all of us. And then we sensed that there was a “lift” in our hearts—as if something broke.
A car came along the road, and the driver was from Ovruch—a new believer who had just come to faith in Christ! Of course, he recognized the students and gave a ride to the preacher and the guitar player. Now the outreach would happen. Yet the rest of us were stranded at roadside.
Five minutes later, a military transport stopped. Out stepped three soldiers from the detachment at Ovruch. These were the soldiers who had said “yes” to Christ the night before—some of the very ones who were to receive those Bibles we had with us. When they saw us stranded, they laughed, and radioed the divisional commander.
“Commander,” they said, “There are about 20 citizens stranded at roadside. What are your orders?”
The commander told the soldiers to order in two more transports and to take us safely to our destinations. Three transports, filled with Ukrainian soldiers transported us to the revival meeting, stayed with us, and then took us back home. Several responded to the gospel message, and became believers.
They took the Bibles to the new Christians (their comrades and friends).
Why? They had to obey the orders of the divisional commander—the very same Russian hack who had forbidden the troops to attend! The identical guy.
The students gathered around after the event was done, shouting ”Slava Isoosoo Christoo! Slava Bogoo!” (Praise to Jesus Christ! Praise God!). Then they gathered around and said, “Teacher David! Teacher David! God answered our prayer! God embarrassed the demons!”
“Yes, he did!” I replied. “He will always answer prayer based on His Word.”
What I didn’t tell them was:
This was the very first time in my life when I had actually prayed that prayer for a purpose.
And that prayed was answered.
Pray that pray with me. Ukraine is being overrun by a bully thug fascist, after thirty years of freedom they are being killed out of hand because they simply wanted to make a living on their own.
Ask for God to embarrass the attacks of the enemy. Ask God to embarrass the demons.
© David Chotka 2022