A Ukrainian American pastor is reported to have been abducted in the southern city of Melitopol.
About 10 Russian soldiers are said to have arrived at the home of 50 year old Dmitry Bodyu, bishop of the Word of Life Church in Melitopol city last Saturday and taken him away. NBC News says the troops also confiscated his American passport along with the family’s phones and other devices.
The National News says the soldiers returned the following day and asked for his Bible and a sleeping bag.
His eldest daughter, Esther Lily Bodyu Ogawa, said, “They walked in and they just started kind of questioning him right away, like, ‘Are you guys American citizens?’ — that’s one of the first questions they had.
“I am worried. I mean, deep inside, I believe and I want to believe that he’s safe and he’s going to come home. But of course, from not knowing exactly what’s going on and how he is and not getting any information, that’s what is, of course, building up that worry inside.”
Pastor Bodyu left Crimea to live in Ukraine in 2014 after the Russian annexation because of his American citizenship.
After the Russian invasion just over a month ago, the pastor had urged residents to seek shelter in his church.
His arrest comes amid fears pastors are being targeted by Russian troops in Ukraine. Last week Release International warned that a hunt for pastors in Ukraine had begun in areas of the country now under Russian control. The charity has issued an urgent call to prayer.
Release International has told Premier that last week Russian soldiers arrested the pastor of the Light of the World Evangelical Church of Mariupol.
Alexander Glushko was arrested at his house in the besieged city. During a search of his home they found his diploma issued by the Theological Seminary of Ukraine.
He is believed to have been taken to territory previously occupied by Russian troops and imprisoned close to Donetsk.
Pastor Alexander's family has been offered no further information, and his wife has been told she has no right and opportunity to see her husband.
Another pastor of a church near Mariupol reports that he was blacklisted for arrest but managed to escape. Release International’s partner in Ukraine, ‘Pavel’ describes that escape as ‘a miracle’.
However, the Evangelical Church building, where that pastor's family lived, has been confiscated, and church meetings are now impossible.
Pavel continues: ‘‘The hunt for the pastors of these churches has now begun in Mariupol and its environs.
"I believe that many other pastors of Evangelical churches in Ukraine, known for their patriotism, are also included in such a "blacklist". This is in line with reports published before the invasion of the Russian army that the 'physical liquidation of some religious figures in Ukraine' who openly support their government is expected.
"I ask you to pray fervently for the well-being and safety of the life of Pastor Alexander Glushko. Pray also for the protection of God from the alleged persecution of Evangelical Christians in Ukraine in places where there are fierce battles, as well as in the territories of Ukraine that were previously occupied by Russia."