We from northern Europe join wholeheartedly in condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine and calling for an end to the bombing and killing. The courage of Ukrainians in the face of the destruction of their whole lives is breathtaking - and we need to share some of the cost of their resistance.
For us in the north of the continent, the historical connections run deep - especially for Finland, with its long border history with Russia; for Sweden, whose 'Vikings' influenced the formation of the Kievan Rus; and for Norway, also with a land border and partnership with Russia over the Spitsbergen islands.
For many of us connected with Initiatives of Change, deep friendships have formed in recent years with both Ukrainians and Russians - through annual winter conferences in Norway, gatherings in the Baltic region, and through collaboration in the Foundations for Freedom programme.
We stand in solidarity with Ukraine, and are committed individually and collectively to help practically where we can. Many of us are in daily contact with friends in Ukraine and Russia. Norwegians host a daily prayer connection which brings together west and east Europeans. IofC Sweden has sent 100,000 Swedish kronor to help on the ground. Many of us have made individual donations and are working locally to support the relief effort and care for incoming refugees. Our commitment is not only to the immediate but also to the long-term rebuilding of infrastructure and relationships.
The fight against the evil actions of the Putin regime must be fought and won. The Ukrainians must be given every support. We in the West must pay a price ourselves. But this is not a fight against the Russian people as a whole, many of whom are standing up against the war and being punished for it.
The fight against evil, we believe, is never just "over there", somewhere else, far way. It is also here, where we are, whoever we are. It has to be fought in the heart of each one of us. In our interdependent world, every act of love anywhere is an act of resistance to evil everywhere.
We pledge ourselves to walk the road of love, with those Ukrainians, Russians and all others who believe that new beginnings can come out of the ashes of destruction.
Denmark: Knud Finken, Nils Finken, Victor Musuku, Inge Rentzmann
Finland: Hannu and Terttu Laaksonen, Anja Snellman
ørn Ole Austad, Gudrun and Jorulf Brøvig Silde, Ingjerd Espolin Gaarder, Mahira Karim, Axel and Camilla Nelson, Adekola Oyenuga, Elisabeth Smith, Jens-Jonathan Wilhelmsen, Ragnhild Østmo
Sweden: Håkan Ahlman, Michael Akampa, Osama Alrantisi, Nik Dee-Dahlström, Marja Ekdahl, Jan and Ingrid Franzon, Per Hörberg, Rishabh Khanna, Kinda Kreidi, Edward and Elisabeth Peters, Antero and Valerie Tikkanen, Kjersti and Judson Webb
If you would like to donate to help Ukraine via the Foundations for Freedom, you can do so here: https://www.iofc.org/en/we-can-all-help-ukraine
Artwork and photos by Elisabeth Peters