Our School Without Walls (SWW) students in Moldova met Yura three years ago when he was 12 years old. They met Yura through his sister Inna who had been attending church for a while and had made a decision to follow Christ. She then started inviting Yura to children’s events at church. Yura was always very shy and reserved and wouldn’t talk to anyone. Inna explained to them that he had speech impediments, and she gave some more background information about their family. Their mother worked in Russia to support the family and was almost never around. Their father was an alcoholic and was abusive towards his children. Yura’s speech was developing normally until one day when his father returned home drunk and his aggressive behavior scared Yura so badly that afterwards he shut down as a way of protecting himself, and his speech problems were one way that this change manifested itself.
“For the past three years, we could see that Yura loved coming to church,” shares one of our SWW students. “He loved spending time with the other children, and later teens. He came to every activity offered for his age group, including summer Bible camps and Sunday morning services. This year we decided to invite Yura to help out with some of the practical aspects of running our summer Bible camps. When we asked him he was beyond surprised and overjoyed and gratefully accepted our invitation. Over the course of the summer, every team member noticed changes taking place in Yura, who began opening up, joking, and even praying! He faithfully and responsibly carried out all of the tasks assigned to him, and he served as an encouragement to many other team members. Many also commented that they had noticed a significant improvement in his speech, saying that for the first time they could fully understand what he was saying! I’m grateful to God that I know Yura and that we could serve God together this summer. God has placed enormous potential in him, as in all of us, however Satan has been working hard to destroy it since his childhood. I pray and believe that Yura will glorify God with his life!”
1. Praise God for our ReVision Research Initiative! The findings of this three-year project were used to publish eight volumes and six DVDs about church, ministry, and Eurasian society, along with new ministry models that can be used to advance God’s Kingdom throughout Eurasia.
2. Please pray for an upcoming Next Generation Professional Leaders Initiative (NGPLI) conference in Belarus, during which 200 young leaders will learn about using their professions as opportunities to share the gospel.
3. Pray for God’s will to be done in the presidential election taking place in Kyrgyzstan.
4. Continue praying for Church Without Walls (CWW) in Pinsk, Belarus, as they are still trying to register and construct their own building where they can worship and serve the community.
5. Praise God for a new School Without Walls (SWW) group that was formed in Lviv, Ukraine last month!
6. Please pray for Lighthouse Youth Club, a ministry of CWW in Moldova, as many young people who participated in this year’s summer Bible camps are now attending the youth club and getting involved in SWW activities.
7. Pray for the youth ministry team at God’s Family Church in Minsk, Belarus, as they are looking for a leader while also serving young people in their community.
8. Continue praying for our brothers and sisters in Russia as they tirelessly share the gospel with their hurting and unreached neighbors, even in the midst of religious persecution.
9. New religion laws related to children and youth ministry are being developed in Kazakhstan, so please pray that God would continue opening doors for Christians to share the gospel, despite potential new restrictions.
10. Pray for an upcoming NGPLI conference for 150 Christian consultants, which will take place in Belarus.
11. Praise God that some of our containers of humanitarian aid have cleared customs in Ukraine! And please pray that the rest of our containers would clear as quickly as possible.
12. Continue praying for our ministry workers and partners throughout Central Asia as they fearlessly share the gospel in this volatile region.
13. Pray for Reconciliation Church in Bobruisk, Belarus, as they recently started a youth club at their church and are trying to finish constructing their church building.
14. Pray for our SWW coordinators in Moldova, that they would serve as examples for their students and equip them to start new ministry projects in their communities.
15. Please pray for CWW in Pinsk, Belarus as they expand their small group and youth ministry efforts.
16. Praise God for our SWW coordinators and students in Israel, whom He is using to lead His chosen people to new life in the Messiah!
17. Continue praying for the new church in Minsk, Belarus that pastors from Reconciliation Church in Bobruisk are helping to plant.
18. Pray for our SWW leaders and students in Russia’s Far North, who are bringing the gospel to the most remote regions in their nation.
19. Pray for pastors from CWW in Pinsk, Belarus as they participate in a six-month ministry study program.
20. Please pray for spiritual revival in Central Asia and Russia’s North Caucasus, where many people have never heard the gospel and are living in the midst of violence and turmoil.
21. Pray for Ray and Cindy, our missionaries in Ukraine, as they continue providing valuable ministry training and tools for Christian teachers through the International Alliance for the Development of Christian Education.
22. Praise God for NGPLI events taking place at CWW in Pinsk, Belarus! Please pray that the young leaders participating in these events would use their professions to grow God’s Kingdom and serve their neighbors.
23. Pray for SWW students in Haifa, Israel, who visit a group of 500 Holocaust survivors 2-3 times each month, bringing them desperately needed food, and even more importantly, the hope of the gospel.
24. Continue praying for an end to the conflict in eastern Ukraine, where so many people are struggling to survive with limited access to food, water, heat, and other basic necessities.
25. Pray for wisdom for the pastor of God’s Family Church in Minsk, Belarus and his family, as his children are deciding which professions they would like to pursue.
26. Please pray that God would provide new ministry opportunities for our SWW students and graduates all throughout Eurasia so they can impact their nations for Christ.
27. Pray for our SWW students in Ukraine as they start preparing to distribute 25,000 Gift of Hope Christmas boxes to hurting, vulnerable children in their nation.
28. Praise God for a special youth meeting that we hosted in Yerevan, Armenia on October 29!
29. Pray for SWW students in Moldova as they prepare to distribute Gifts of Hope during the Christmas season. A short-term missions team from the US will also participate in these efforts, so pray that God would use them for His glory.
30. Please pray that God would faithfully provide for our ministry as we enter the holiday season and the end of the calendar year.
Every Christmas season, the School Without Walls (SWW) students and graduates trained and equipped by Mission Eurasia deliver thousands of Gift of Hope Christmas boxes to children in need throughout Eurasia. Each festive, hand-delivered Gift of Hope is filled with toys, treats, and a children’s storybook Bible that shares the story of the greatest Gift of Hope of all: Jesus. The boxes are distributed by our leaders in orphanages, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, schools, and neighborhoods where children are suffering or abandoned. Each Gift of Hope box represents a connection to the local church and a starting point for a relationship with caring Christian role models.
Last Christmas, our young leaders heard the emotional story of Tigran, whose life was impacted through Gift of Hope and the example of one of our SWW students, Alexey. Tigran shared his story with us in his own words:
“My name is Tigran, and I am 12 years old. My mother died of cancer when I was nine, and my dad is a migrant worker in Russia.I take care of my little brother, Edik. Sometimes we don’t have enough food and clothing, and many of the parents in our building won’t let us play with their kids because our dad smokes a lot and our clothes are always covered in smoke. We often feel very hopeless.
“For Christmas, a young man named Alexey who lives in our apartment invited my brother and I to a Christmas gathering at his church. Everyone there was so kind, and I really loved learning about God. Alexey gave us Gift of Hope boxes and our own copy of 101 Favorite Bible Stories. After reading these stories, I accepted Jesus. Now Jesus gives real hope and meaning to my life, and Alexey and I read Bible stories together almost every day! I am going to church regularly, and soon I plan to invite my father to go with me. Please pray that his life will be changed too.”
To provide the Gift of Hope and the life-changing message of Jesus this Christmas to children like Tigran and his little brother, please give today:
Looking back, Regina can see clearly that God was working for many years to reach both her and her husband with the Good News. In 2003 both Regina and her husband gained new coworkers in their workplaces that were evangelical Christians. Regina was a teacher at a vocational school and her husband worked in construction. Her husband’s coworker invited him to church, and Regina decided to go with him. There, they discovered people who were full of life and joy. Fascinated, they continued attending church services and Christian events, and in 2004 they both made the decision to repent and dedicate their lives to Jesus.
Since then Regina and her husband have been growing in faith and serving in the church. Her husband is a worship leader and deacon. They also have three small children, which until recently had prevented them from pursuing a Christian education. However, when Mission Eurasia’s leadership training program School Without Walls (SWW) came to their church in 2015, the program offered the flexible solution that they needed, enabling them to obtain the training and tools they needed for ministry without detracting from their family, work, and ministry responsibilities.
“As I studied in SWW, I kept asking myself, ‘How can I serve people who don’t yet know God?’” shares Regina. “I enjoy attending church and serving our church body, but I wanted to reach people outside the church, just as our coworkers reached out to us over a decade ago. I kept pondering and coming back to this question as I proceeded with my SWW studies.”
Last year, Regina’s SWW group got involved in ministry in a pediatric oncology unit in a Krasnodar hospital. “I knew that this was a ministry where I could share God’s love and speak hope to those who had lost theirs,” shares Regina. In addition to speaking individually with children and their families, Regina had the privilege of dressing as an angel and declaring Good News of great joy throughout all five floors the pediatric unit as they invited children and their parents to a Christmas concert last Christmas. Many children and parents came down to the hospital’s performance hall, and there Regina and the rest of the SWW team shared a message of hope with them through their concert, and took the opportunity to get to know many families personally. They made it their mission to discover how they could help these families, and then set about doing so – they helped buy expensive medications and purchase tickets to St. Petersburg for a life-changing surgery.
“These bridges allow us to share the Gospel with parents and children,” shares Regina. “I know that this is a long-term ministry, which requires a lot of patience and care for these people. I am grateful that SWW motivated me to take steps to increase my faith. I firmly believe that many of these children and parents will come to faith in Jesus through this special project!”
On a visit last winter Regina met 7-year-old Tanya. Tanya has brain cancer, and had part of a malignant brain tumor surgically removed. She has also been through two rounds of chemotherapy. The tumor presses on the part of the brain that controls the endocrine system. One of the effects of this is severe fluctuations in hormones, which sometimes lead to a halt in her physical development, followed by drastic changes, such as gaining 20 pounds in a very short period of time. The chemotherapy has stopped the tumor’s growth. Generally these types of tumors will resume growth after two years, at which point another round of chemotherapy will stop the growth for another two years, and so on, until the tumor reaches a critical mass. Tanya’s mother shared that she is praying for her daughter and asked for prayer support. The family lives in the village of Gulkevichi, and have another child. Tanya’s father is unable to find full-time work, and they are struggling financially. SWW students helped purchase some items that Tanya needed, as well as raising money for travel to Moscow in April for treatment. In addition to offering financial support, the students have been visiting the family in their home and building a relationship with them, taking every opportunity to share a message of hope in Jesus with them.
To support the work of our School Without Walls students like Regina who are serving people in need and proclaiming the gospel with their unique gifts and abilities, please give to our School Without Walls program:
Maksim grew up in a Christian family going to church, and always knew a lot about God. However, as a teenager, he chose to stop going to church and turn away from God. One day, when he was 17, a non-Christian friend invited Maksim to a concert, and when they arrived at the concert venue, it turned out to be a Christian concert in a church! Although at first he felt uncomfortable, Maksim enjoyed the concert, and was impressed by the Christians’ honesty and sincerity. Because he already had the church background, he understood the message of the songs, however this time the message touched him like never before.
Soon after the concert he prayed, repented of his sins, and invited Christ into his heart. Maksim had been smoking for six years, however he prayed, asking to be freed from his addiction, and from the next day onwards he felt no desire to smoke. Max knew that God had done a miracle in his life!
Max started attending church regularly and joined the worship team. However soon conflict arose and the church broke apart. Disillusioned, Max gradually drifted away from church and God once more. He was hurt and couldn’t understand why God had allowed these things to happen.
At the age of 25, Max felt a desire to renew his relationship with God, and he made changes in his personal life and found a new church. That church was Reconciliation Church in Bobruisk, our long-time partner. Max felt that God had something special prepared for him, so he prayed, “Lord, lead me! I don’t know what will happen, but I trust you. I don’t want to waste my life, I feel the seed that you planted in me growing, and I know that I am forgiven!”
Soon after, God provided direction and clarity to Maxim, and he began studying in School Without Walls (SWW) and participating in home groups through his church. “God is changing my life drastically, turning my thinking upside down, and giving me ideas and opportunities to serve Him in multiple spheres,” Max shares. Max joined other SWW students in serving in an orphanage in Bobruisk, and a group of them developed a unique project. They visit the orphanage every other week to hold a cooking club. They teach the children how to cook, and then they eat the dishes they have cooked together. This both provides opportunities for fun, fellowship, and mentoring, as well as teaching the children valuable skills for life after the orphanage, which they are often tragically unprepared for.
Max has found that this cooking club ministry not only benefits the children, but he also benefits. Max writes rap songs and his ministry in the orphanage has provided him with a lot of inspiration for his songs, as it gives him a glimpse of what young people care about and how they think. “Thanks to my ministry in the orphanage, I don’t grow complacent in my faith, but am always aware of my need to continue growing spiritually, in order to be able to serve and help others. It also makes me aware of and grateful for God’s blessings in my life. I am aware of my need for God and His goodness and mercy in my life, and these motivate and enable me to serve Him!”
There are many moving pieces and events unfolding across the countries of Eurasia. Our ministry closely monitors the news and political landscape in the region and its potential impact on our ministry. We have compiled an update of some of the highlights from recent months to share with our friends and supporters, so that you can be informed about how to pray for us and learn more about the challenges–and encouragements–our ministry is encountering in the field. Please reach out to us with any questions, by either calling our office 630-462-1739 or emailing us at email@example.com.
The Ukrainian Conflict
Recent months have not brought any significant positive outcomes to the war in Ukraine. The front lines remain where they began this summer, and small but frequent ceasefire violations continue to undermine the credibility of the Minsk II ceasefire agreement. However, despite the stalled Minsk II agreement, there is potential for an eventual diplomatic solution in Ukraine, as Russia has called for a UN peacekeeping mission to Ukraine. What this means for our ministry is that there is still a great need for humanitarian aid, healing, and relief in eastern Ukraine, where hundreds of thousands of people remain trapped in the war zone where they are struggling to survive with limited access to basic necessities such as food, electricity, and clean water. This is why we remain committed to continuing the relief efforts of our “I Care” Refugee Assistance program as we deliver food packs, clothing, supplies, and copies of God’s Word to the people in crisis in eastern Ukraine.
Anniversary of the Reformation
Despite the many challenges that continue in Ukraine, an encouraging celebration happened in Kiev in September when between 150,000 and 500,000 people gathered in the central square to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation and hear from Christian motivational speaker Nick Vujicic from Australia. Those in attendance represented all of the Protestant confessions in Ukraine: Anglicans, Seventh Day Adventists, Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, Mennonites, Presbyterians, and Charismatic Christians. The gathering was a positive and hopeful reminder of existing religious freedom and the strong presence of Christianity in Ukraine. This central square in Kiev where the Reformation celebration took place is the same location where, many years ago, communists would force people to demonstrate and propagate socialism, atheism, and communism in their country. The fact that today this square was the site of a celebration of God’s faithfulness is proof of God’s incredible transformational work in Ukraine. To learn more, read Sergey Rakhuba’s interview with Mission Network News.
Yarovaya Law and Religious Freedom
The package of laws known as the Yarovaya law continue to restrict religious freedom across Russia. These laws forbid many types of religious activity, including evangelism, Scripture distribution, and public religious services unless registered with the local authorities. Certain religious groups have been labeled as “religious sects” and can be prosecuted as terrorists would be. Implementations of the specific provisions of the law vary from region to region. This summer, some Christian children’s camps have been raided or shut down for various reasons, ranging from public health concern to lack of parental permission. You can read more about religious freedom restrictions in Russia in the 2017 report on Russia from the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Despite these challenges, our leaders and School Without Walls students and graduates in Russia continue to proclaim the gospel without fear and work to support the strategic ministry of local evangelical churches. Praise God for His protection and blessing on our summer Bible camp program this summer, where 24 camps in Russia took place that impacted more than 1,790 children and youth with the gospel! We truly saw His hand at work over the summer, guiding and protecting our ministry and staff in Russia.
1. Praise God that many of the young people who attended summer Bible camp in Moldova are now going to Church Without Walls (CWW)!
2. Please continue praying for Reconciliation Church in Bobruisk, Belarus, as they are still trying to register with local authorities while also expanding their many ministry programs.
3. Pray for School Without Walls (SWW) coordinators, teachers, and students in Russia’s North Caucasus as they present this strategic program to potential church partners.
4. Pray for a social outreach center that SWW students are launching in Rishon LeZion, Israel, where they are sharing the Messiah’s love with God’s chosen people.
5. Please pray for Dmitriy, our SWW coordinator at Clean Heart Church in Brest, Belarus, as he and his wife are currently housing three orphans: Sasha, Roman, and Valera.
6. Praise God for a Next Generation Professional Leaders Initiative (NGPLI) conference that recently took place in Novorossiysk, Russia!
7. Pray for three new SWW centers in Briceni, Chisinau, and Orhei, Moldova, where even more young leaders are being prepared for ministry in their own cities.
8. Pray for our ministry team in Azerbaijan as they prepare to host an NGPLI conference.
9. Continue praying for CWW in Pinsk, Belarus as they expand their youth ministry and small groups, even in the midst of financial challenges.
10. Praise God for a SWW training seminar on sharing the gospel with Buddhists and Muslims, which recently took place in Kalmykia, Russia!
11. Please pray for our SWW coordinators and teachers in Georgia as they grow their partnerships with local churches and expand their ministry efforts.
12. Continue praying for Sergei and Slava, two pastors from Reconciliation Church in Bobruisk, Belarus, as they plant a new church in Minsk.
13. Pray for an NGPLI forum that will take place in Lutsk, Ukraine on October 14. We anticipate that 450 young professionals will participate in this forum, where they will learn how to effectively share the gospel in their spheres of influence.
14. Pray for our SWW graduates in Perm, Russia, who started a puppet ministry to share the gospel with children living orphanages.
15. Praise God for a worship event that took place in Armenia last month! About 40 people participated in this event, and three of them accepted Christ as their Savior!
16. Please pray for two new SWW groups in Azerbaijan, through which we are preparing young leaders to partner with local churches and reach their neighbors with the gospel.
17. Pray for our SWW leaders in Yekaterinburg, Russia, as they launched a new SWW group last month and are preparing to host a special conference for SWW graduates.
18. Pray for a SWW coordinators meeting that will take place in Ukraine on October 19-20. We anticipate that 50 SWW coordinators from eight countries will participate in this meeting.
19. Please pray for the leaders of Clean Heart Church in Brest, Belarus, who are working with their first SWW group.
20. Pray for our ministry leaders in Russia’s North Caucasus as they lead new church-planting and outreach efforts, even in the midst of escalating religious persecution.
21. Praise God for four families in Azerbaijan who accepted Christ as their Savior during one of our summer Bible camps!
22. Pray for the upcoming dedication ceremony of Good News Church in Ardon, Russia, which one of our SWW graduates, Chermen, helped to plant.
23. Please pray for an International Alliance for the Development of Christian Education (IADCE) conference for Christian teachers that Ray and Cindy, our missionaries in Ukraine, will be helping to lead on October 23-25.
24. Pray for the many new SWW groups that we are planning to launch in Tajikistan this year.
25. Continue praying for CWW in Pinsk, Belarus, as they are still trying to register while also helping to form a new NGPLI group.
26. Praise God for a puppet ministry in Azerbaijan, through which our SWW students are sharing the gospel with 300 children!
27. Please continue praying that our containers of humanitarian aid goods for the hurting people of Ukraine would clear customs as quickly as possible.
28. Pray for Aram, our SWW coordinator in Armenia, who will be leading a marriage and family seminar in Bulgaria at the end of the month.
29. Pray for Georgiy, one of our SWW leaders in Vladikavkaz, Russia, who has experienced many delays while applying for Russian citizenship.
30. Please pray for the development of the IADCE website, which will provide valuable resources for Christian teachers in Ukraine and beyond.
31. Pray for Kyrgyzstan’s presidential elections, which will take place in November. The nation’s current leaders are strictly regulating religious organizations, so please pray that Kyrgyzstan’s new president would protect religious freedom.
Zulfiya is one of our current School Without Walls students in Perm, Russia. Today she is thriving, growing in her faith, running a business, and leading an NGO that cares for homeless people in her community. But before her miraculous transformation, drug addiction stole 18 years of her life. She shared her story with us of how God rescued her from her addiction and led her to get involved in School Without Walls:
“I could have died from drugs, and lost my husband and son and parents,” shares Zulfiya. “I never would have lived to see another day full of joyful laughter, the blue sky, and warm sun. Drugs stole 18 years of my life, and took my family and everything I held dear from me.
“There was one day in my life that changed me from a young girl into a lonely, miserable creature living in the basement of an apartment building. I would come there alone to shoot myself up and would stay the night there because I had nowhere else to go. I had no hope for the future.
“One night I heard voices of unknown men and I was scared for my life. That was what made me realize that I actually still wanted to live! I realized, ‘I’m a mother – I have a son. I’m a wife – I have a husband. I have parents who care about me.’ I couldn’t wait for morning to get my life back in order. I had always believed in miracles but thought they wouldn’t happen to me. However that changed – I went to a rehabilitation center and there I met Christians who told me about Jesus. I am a Tatar, and my people are Muslims who don’t want to have anything to do with the “Russian God,” as they call Him.
“But when my Christian friends told me that Jesus died for my sins and loves everyone, I experienced God’s hand on me and made a decision to accept Jesus into my life. I had never heard any of this before, and learning that Jesus had shed His blood for ME was mind-blowing! I read in the Bible that I am His beloved daughter and that He has forgiven all my sins. I realized that I had been believing a lie, thinking that I was useless and headed to the grave. But I learned that there was One who had come to save the worthless and the disillusioned – Jesus! And my life began to change and continues to change to this very day.
“God changed my life radically! Thanks to Him I now run an NGO called Do Good, through which I work with others to feed the homeless. God put it on my heart to serve people in the same situation that I used to be in. I also a run a business which helps provide jobs for people in the same trap of hopelessness that I once found myself in, and I use the opportunity to tell them about the salvation available to them in Jesus. This year I started School Without Walls, and it has been enormously helpful. I have particularly appreciated the NGPLI events which showed me how I can minister to people through my job.
“I now know that what is most valuable is our lives and that we can only live them once – we only get one shot at them. I now know why I live and what I need to do. Thanks to Jesus I am like a child again, just in love with life!”
Give to support the incredible work of young leaders like Zulfiya who are being trained and equipped for effective ministry through School Without Walls: