Maksim’s Testimony of Faith: SWW Student from Belarus

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!”

Slava’s Story: From Atheism to School Without Walls

 

Slava is a current School Without Walls student from Belarus in his first year of study. For many years he was an atheist who made fun of Christians for their faith. But after making some friends from School Without Walls and attending an Empower Conference, God began to work in Slava’s heart and transform his life: 

“I’m 23 years old, and I grew up in a non-Christian family. For people like my father, I have a special name, ‘aggressive atheist,’ as he completely denies God’s existence. In fact, when I was growing up, the only person who talked with me about God was my grandmother. She taught me the importance of reading the Bible and praying, but I still didn’t want to believe in God. I needed proof, and I even made fun of Christians for their faith. However, my grandmother patiently listened and continued to talk with me about salvation.

“When I was older, I moved to Pinsk and got a job as a barista at a coffee shop where many Christians worked. We soon became friends, and I often asked them about their faith, but to my surprise, they never tried to prove anything to me. I still refused to accept what they believed, but two months later, one of my friends invited me to work at the Empower Conference, because they needed a barista. I accepted this offer, because I already knew many of the School Without Walls (SWW) students in Pinsk.

Slava working as a barista

“During the Empower Conference, I was surrounded by Christians for four days. I was very impressed by the event and the friendly atmosphere created by the students. After working at the conference, I stopped making fun of Christians, because one of my friends told me, ‘Friends respect one another’s personal views.’ I also felt humbled when I realized that my Christian friends had never made fun of my atheistic views.

“A few weeks later, I went to the Joy Youth Club, and I really enjoyed talking with the Christians I met. I think God was working in me, but also giving me a choice. In the summer, I moved to Brest for a new job, but almost every weekend, I went back to Pinsk so I could hang out with my friends from church. I went to their home group, but I still avoided talking about God too much. However, He was continuing to work in my heart. In early autumn, the leaders of the home group said that we would be studying the entire New Testament, starting with the Gospel of Matthew. My heart started to change, and I found myself thinking about God. He was waiting for me to make a choice, and I finally confessed to the home group that my views about Christians and the Church were wrong.

“Three weeks later, I attended a SWW meeting at church, and afterward, I prayed a prayer of repentance with the pastor. And then my new life began! I immediately got involved in church life by serving at the Joy Youth Club. I thank God that my grandmother and friends endured my poor treatment, and I’m so grateful that they didn’t turn away from me. I know that I will face many challenges in my Christian walk, but I also know that my Father loves me and will be with me every step of the way.

“This year, I also started studying at SWW, and I’m so glad that this program is pushing me in the right direction. I also want to help others, because there are so many people in need, and the Lord calls us to serve our neighbors. Now, I serve coffee at the youth club and talk with young people about God. Even though I have repented, I still have many questions, but with God’s grace, I want to use my life to glorify Him. I want my faith to grow, and with the help of my church, the Joy Youth Club, and SWW seminars, I want the Lord to use me to lead people to Him.”

Anastasia’s Story: Called to Serve

Anastasia is a young Next Generation leader and School Without Walls graduate from Belarus. Along with serving at our summer Bible camps, she also started a ministry that reaches out to young people on the streets to talk to them about God, faith, and other important topics. Together, she and her husband produce and edit videos for their church and ministry. But it was a long journey for Anastasia to accept her true calling to serve God, and she shared her powerful story of faith with us. Even though she fell away from God many times, He was always faithful to lead her back to Him:

“I was born into a non-Christian family. My parents divorced when I was only two years old, and after a while, my mother remarried and had a son with my stepfather. Sadly, my stepfather didn’t believe in God, and he and my mother devoted all of their attention to my brother. But in the midst of my loneliness, God showed me His love by allowing me to participate in the Children of Chernobyl program, through which I went to America to live with a host family for a month in 1999.

“At Sunday school in the US, I learned about Jesus and heard many Bible stories. However, I was only eight and couldn’t speak English, so I didn’t know what was expected of me. I fought with the other children and behaved very poorly, and I think this was a result of not feeling loved by my parents. I’ve now been to America four times, and each time, I’ve invested more and more in the American family that God gave me. They humbly helped lead me down the correct path, and since 2000, they’ve been coming to my city once a year to serve at the local orphanage, where I also served as a translator many years later.

“One day, during a worship service for Americans and Belarusians at Lord’s Grace Church, our pastor shared his testimony and made a call to repentance. I could feel God’s presence like I never had before, and I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I burst into tears and immediately repented. I promised God that I didn’t want to live like I had before, and I wanted to do something to impact the lives of other people.

“But sadly, the devil led me astray, and I didn’t keep my promise to God. My parents thought that I was behaving differently just because I needed something from them, so after a while, I felt burned out and returned to my old ways. I drank, smoked, and made friends with bad people. I still went to church sometimes, but I lied to my parents so they wouldn’t know what I was doing. I dated two guys that I thought I loved, and I tried to bring them to church and introduce them to God, but I wasn’t even pursuing Him myself. I couldn’t see that I was drowning in my sin.

“Eventually, I started dating someone new, and I thought he would want to go to church and everything would be wonderful for us. I prayed for him, we read Christian books together, and we talked a lot about God. Because he agreed to do these things, I thought it was my job to save him so we could have a strong Christian family. But I was so wrong. I agreed to marry this man, but I felt God pulling me in the other direction. I started to feel ashamed, and I hated myself for the way I was behaving. I asked God to give me a new heart and to free me from my addictions. And at a 2012 summer Bible camp, He changed my life! I prayed that He would help me make a real commitment to serving Him and standing firm in my faith, and I immediately felt Him giving me the strength to repent and follow Him.

Anastasia with her family

“I finally decided to stop serving two masters. I stopped lying to my parents and tried to solve our problems peacefully. I also called off my wedding with the man I had been with for three years, because I knew it wasn’t God’s will for us to be together. Even though this was very hard to do, God gave me the strength to obey Him. After we broke up, my ex tried to manipulate me for several months. I also found out that he had been planning to forbid me from going to church and hanging out with my Christian friends after we got married. He had lied to me about everything, and I felt like a complete fool. One day, he even tried to stab me with a knife, but thank God that the door to his apartment was open and the neighbors saw him try to attack me. Because of that, I was able to get away, and from then on, I believed that God was with me and protecting me.

“Not long after, I joined School Without Walls (SWW), through which I learned more about God, myself, and my calling than I ever had before. Thanks to this program, God gave me the answers to the questions I had been struggling with, particularly about my purpose. I really wanted to serve in the church, but for a long time I didn’t understand how God could use me. And then I went to a SWW seminar about evangelism and youth ministry, where I, along with some other students, came up with the idea to start a ministry project in our city. We called this project Not Like Everyone Else, and it involved talking with young people on the street about important topics and what the Bible has to say about them.

“Through Not Like Everyone Else, we try to show young people how their opinions are often very different from the truth shared in the Bible. Since creating this ministry, many of our friends have accepted Christ, and God is continuing to bring us new leaders with various gifts. We have led picnics, hiking trips, basketball tournaments, and even concerts. God has also opened the door for me to work in media. When I was 16, I enjoyed editing my old family videos, but I never imagined that I would be able to do this kind of thing professionally. Now I am in charge of my church’s social media pages, along with preparing slides for our worship services, producing video invitations, editing photos, and more!

“God has greatly blessed me. I never thought that I’d be able to influence young people at such an important time in their lives. Even though it can be challenging and my family misses me when I am working, I am so thankful for the opportunity that God has given me. For a while, I prayed that He would also provide a way for my husband, Kolya, to get involved in my ministry, and now we work together to edit videos and written projects. I am so thankful that God is using me and my husband to serve Him. Thank you, SWW leaders, for helping me understand my calling more clearly!”

Alesya’s Testimony: Ministering to Children with Disabilities in Belarus

“I love serving those in need, especially children and orphans with mental disabilities,” shares Alesya, a School Without Walls (SWW) student from Pinsk, Belarus. Alesya coordinates the team of 5-8 dedicated volunteers from Church Without Walls that visits a local boarding school for children with special needs twice a month and organizes a summer Bible camp, Gift of Hope program, and other special projects at the school. “We spend as much as time as possible with the children so we can form strong relationships with them and support them beyond our regular visits.”

Alesya says that SWW played an important role in helping her discover her calling and in equipping her to fulfill it. “After assuming this leadership role, I felt the need to grow as a leader. It’s one thing to be a volunteer, but it’s another thing to think about ministry in a more holistic sense when you’re caring for children and leading a team. I understood that my enthusiasm and limited knowledge of ministry wasn’t enough to help me lead. I needed strong support, which I found at SWW. The training events and experienced ministry leaders that I met encouraged me and enriched my ministry. I could clearly see my own strengths and weaknesses, and this gave me new hope in God, because I realized that I couldn’t do anything through my own strength.”

Alesya rejoices in the results she has seen from her ministry, while also remembering that sometimes results are slow in coming, difficult to see, or only visible in the long term. “Sometimes I want quick results, but through children’s ministry, God has humbled me in a very special way. Children with mental disabilities sometimes have a hard time understanding the gospel, and sometimes I worry that they will never really understand the Good News. But this is so wrong, because I can see the children changing, even if it happens slowly. For example, Sasha, a young boy who lives at the boarding school, heard the gospel for the first time and immediately started asking serious questions about spiritual things. We gave him his very own copy of God’s Word, and since then, I have seen him reaching out to others with the gospel!”

Alesya also has plans for how to grow and increase the impact of her ministry in the future. “After attending seminars on goal setting and ministry planning, I started thinking more strategically about ministry and how I could make our outreach to children more effective. First, I want to start a mentoring program in which families would take care of individual children, surrounding them with their love and care. Second, I want to find new ways to share the gospel with the 180 teachers and staff at the boarding school. By influencing them, we can also continue influencing the children. We have already talked with one teacher, Galina, who became interested in the gospel through our ministry and opened her heart to Jesus. Today, she serves as a witness for Christ in the boarding school.”

We praise God for using School Without Walls to play a role in the growth and development of passionate, energetic, dedicated young leaders like Alesya, who are sacrificially investing their time and energy to make a difference in the lives of the members of their community most in need of the Good News! Your generous gifts enable us to continue investing in leaders like Alesya to increase their impact!

February 2017 Prayer Requests

Moldovan School Without Walls students share a message of hope in impoverished villages this winter.
  1. Praise God for the thousands of children in Eurasia who received Gifts of Hope during the Christmas season! Please pray that God would be at work in their hearts so that they may come to know Christ.
  2. Pray for an upcoming Next Generation Professional Leaders Initiative (NGPLI) conference that will take place in Belarus this month.
  3. Pray for young people in Tolyatti, Russia who are going to church, but don’t yet know God, and that our ministry efforts would bear fruit in their lives.
  4. Pray for our School Without Walls (SWW) leaders in Israel, as they are planning to start a new SWW group in the Czech Republic.
  5. Please pray for the regional coordinator of God’s Family Church in Minsk, Belarus as she leads ministry efforts, while also helping her daughters prepare for college.
  6. Praise God for providing resources and ministry opportunities in Russia, even in the midst of escalating religious persecution!
  7. Pray for our ministry team in Ukraine as they continue using our “I Care” Refugee Assistance Program to distribute humanitarian aid to internally displaced people and those who remain trapped in the war zone.
  8. Pray for our SWW students in Pinsk, Belarus as they partner with Christian student groups to prepare special evangelistic events at a local university in honor of the 500th anniversary of an edition of Psalms that was published by Francysk Skaryna in the Belarusian language.
  9. Please pray for our ministry workers and missionary partners who are dedicated to sharing the gospel with the unreached throughout Russia’s North Caucasus.
  10. Pray for our team in Ukraine as they meet with the leaders of professional networks in Kazakhstan, Moldova, and Russia.
  11. Pray for safety for some of our SWW students in Uzbekistan, as they are experiencing challenges with local authorities.
  12. Praise God for an English study group in Pinsk, Belarus, through which Church Without Walls (CWW) is teaching English lessons using Bible passages! Please pray that God would be at work in the students’ hearts so they may come to know Christ.
  13. Pray that God would grant wisdom to Vyacheslav, our SWW coordinator in Yekaterinburg, Russia, as he develops new ministry initiatives.
  14. Please pray that SWW students in Armenia would continue growing spiritually and sharing the gospel with their neighbors.
  15. Pray that young Christians in Saratov, Russia would actively participate in ministry efforts in their community.
  16. Pray for our plans to publish several ministry resources for young Christian professionals throughout Eurasia.
  17. Please pray for CWW in Pinsk, Belarus, as the church leaders are still trying to register with local authorities, construct their own building, and expand their small group ministry.
  18. Pray for our SWW students in Moldova as they organize and host a youth conference this month to encourage about 300 young people to share the gospel with their families, friends, and neighbors.
  19. Praise God for our ministry center in Vladikavkaz, Russia, through which we are expanding our ministry efforts, including church planting, in this volatile region!
  20. Pray that God would provide resources for CWW in Pinsk, Belarus, and that He would embolden working professionals who attend the church to share the gospel in their workplaces.
  21. Please pray for SWW students in Yekaterinburg, Russia as they begin their internships at local churches.
  22. Pray for Denis, our NGPLI director, as he develops and expands this strategic ministry throughout Eurasia.
  23. Pray for our SWW coordinators in Russia as they expand our ministry efforts in the North Caucasus and the Transcaucasia region.
  24. Praise God for our ministry leaders who are faithfully serving in Central Asia, despite the challenges they face!
  25. Please pray for our ministry team in Ukraine as they lead an NGPLI conference in Minsk, Belarus today.
  26. Pray for Georgiy, one of our SWW leaders in Vladikavkaz, Russia, as he is trying to obtain Russian citizenship.
  27. Pray that God would provide a new leader for the youth ministry at God’s Family Church in Minsk, Belarus.
  28. Please pray that God would grow the children’s ministry at Spiritual Renewal Church in Vladikavkaz, Russia.

January 2017 Prayer Requests

 

  1. img_4895  Please pray for our School Without Walls (SWW) students as they continue distributing Gifts of Hope to children in several different countries in Eurasia this month.
  2. Pray for our SWW coordinator in Uzbekistan, as he was recently fined for doing ministry work and is experiencing some personal health issues.
  3. Praise God for SWW training events and social outreach projects that are taking place in Vladivostok, Russia on January 3-6!
  4. Pray for a new Christian school that will be launching in Haifa, Israel this month.
  5. Please pray for several families that attend Reconciliation Church in Bobruisk, Belarus who are experiencing health problems and financial difficulty.
  6. psedrmkraz0-1Pray for our SWW students and teachers in Perm, Russia, particularly a group that recently launched in the city of Chaykovsky.
  7. Pray that God would strengthen Edgar, Robert, and Vaye, three Christian policemen in Armenia, who may lose their jobs for attending church.
  8. Praise God that SWW is growing in Russia’s North Caucasus, and that our ministry partners in the region remain committed to expanding this program so that even more young people may come to know Christ through home Bible study groups, training seminars, and more!
  9. Please continue praying for Church Without Walls (CWW) in Pinsk, Belarus, as they are still trying to register with local authorities.
  10. Pray that God would bring about an end to the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine so that this hurting nation can start to heal and Ukraine and Russia can be reconciled.
  11. Pray for our SWW and church-planting efforts in Russia’s North Caucasus as we expand our ministry to share the gospel with even more unreached people in this volatile region.
  12. Please pray for Eduard, our SWW coordinator in Moldova, as he and his wife are looking for a new place to live.
  13. Pray for two new ministry projects in Omsk, Russia: the translation of the gospel into the Siberian Tatar language and the restoration of a Christian center in Tara.
  14. 0v7lxt2vzqyPraise God for an evangelistic youth outreach event that is taking place in Armenia today!
  15. Pray for ongoing discipleship at CWW in Pinsk, Belarus, especially as several people recently accepted Christ and are now looking for ways to grow in their faith.
  16. Please pray for our SWW leaders in Vladivostok, Russia as they continue expanding SWW and youth outreach projects, while also looking for a new ministry building.
  17. Pray for the children’s ministry center that Eduard, our SWW coordinator in Moldova, and his wife started, as many of the children’s parents are Orthodox and don’t want their children attending the center.
  18. Pray for Valeriy, our SWW coordinator in Krasnodar, Russia, and his family, as he is dealing with health issues and looking for another job, all while continuing to develop training events for SWW students and other young leaders.
  19. Praise God that many of our containers of humanitarian aid for Ukraine have cleared customs! Please also pray that the remaining containers would clear quickly so we can continue bringing humanitarian aid to those who are suffering.
  20. Pray for Yevgeniy, our SWW coordinator in Vladivostok, Russia, and his son, who is applying to seminary in Moscow.
  21. Please pray for an upcoming regional church conference in Brest, Belarus that CWW is helping to organize.
  22. Continue praying for Georgiy, one of our SWW teachers in Vladikavkaz, Russia, as he is still dealing with issues related to a car accident he was in last year.
  23. Pray for our SWW leaders and ministry partners as they seek to develop and lead new ministry initiatives, while also making enough time for their families.
  24. Praise God that School #31 and Agrarian University in Vladikavkaz, Russia are now allowing SWW students to host preventative lectures for students! Please pray that more schools would follow their example.
  25. Please pray for Reconciliation Church in Bobruisk, Belarus, as they are still trying to register their building with local authorities.
  26. Continue praying for our brothers and sisters in Russia as they continue sharing the gospel, even in the midst of growing religious persecution.
  27. Pray for new SWW students in Armenia, particularly an evangelical music group that is holding concerts in Armenia and Georgia.
  28. Praise God for a group of SWW students in Krasnodar, Russia that wants to plant a new church in their city!
  29. Please pray that God would keep Vyacheslav, our SWW coordinator in Yekaterinburg, Russia, and his family healthy.
  30. Pray for a Next Generation Professional Leaders Initiative conference that will take place in Belarus next month.
  31. Pray that SWW students in Omsk, Russia would continue to grow spiritually and fearlessly share their faith during a weeklong mission trip to the Tatar people group in February.

Donate_Button_2_up_b

December 2016 Prayer Requests

15002351_10209054836142055_3759383939758954734_o-1

  1. Praise God for our first ever Next Generation Professional Leaders Initiative (NGPLI) forum in Central Asia, which took place in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on November 12!
  2. Please pray for our Gift of Hope distribution efforts and other evangelistic events taking place throughout Eurasia during the Christmas season.
  3. Pray for a School Without Walls (SWW) youth conference that is taking place in Ukraine on December 2-3.
  4. Pray that God would bless our ministry leaders in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia’s North Caucasus as they expand our SWW efforts in these volatile regions.
  5. Pray for Church Without Walls (CWW) in Pinsk, Belarus, as the church leaders are applying for registration with the local authorities, while also expanding their various ministry initiatives.
  6. Please pray for SWW students in the city of Vanadzor, Armenia to be zealous for God and motivated to share the gospel with even more unreached people.
  7. Praise God for a group of 30 new SWW students in Russia’s North Caucasus who are committed to sharing the gospel!
  8. Pray for Vasiliy, one of the leaders of Reconciliation Church in Bobruisk, Belarus, as he ministers to broken families in his community.
  9. Pray for CWW in Moldova, as our ministry partners are planning many different social outreach efforts and other evangelistic events during the Christmas season.
  10. Please pray that God would grant wisdom and courage to believers in Armenia as they share the gospel with the unreached.
  11. Praise God for our ministry center in Vladikavkaz, Russia and our partners at Spiritual Renewal Church, who are dedicated to sharing the gospel throughout the North Caucasus!
  12. Pray that God would continue to bless our NGPLI efforts in Belarus so that even more young Christian professionals can learn how to share the gospel in their workplaces.
  13. Pray for wisdom for a group of SWW students in Georgia who want to start a ministry to the homeless.
  14. Please pray that God would provide new opportunities for SWW students to share the gospel with young people in local schools and universities in Vladikavkaz, Russia.
  15. Pray for Yuriy, our SWW coordinator in Pinsk, Belarus, as his mother-in-law is undergoing surgery, and he is also developing his own business.
  16. Pray that our containers of humanitarian aid goods for Ukraine would clear customs as quickly as possible so that we can continue bringing these goods to those in need.
  17. Pray that God would use SWW to raise up new church leaders in Russia’s North Caucasus and expand our ministry efforts in the region.
  18. Please pray for the leaders of Reconciliation Church in Bobruisk, Belarus as they encourage their congregation to continue growing in faith and sharing the gospel with their neighbors.
  19. Pray for Denis, our SWW coordinator in Svetliy, Moldova, as he seeks to faithfully serve the Lord and make enough time for his family.
  20. Praise God for a group of new SWW students in Russia who are participating in our Preparation for Success training seminars and inviting their friends to participate!
  21. Continue praying for Reconciliation Church in Bobruisk, Belarus as the church leaders apply for registration with the local authorities.
  22. Pray that our 12 SWW centers in Ukraine would help to prepare the Next Generation of Christian leaders for effective ministry.
  23. Please pray that God would grant courage to our brothers and sisters in Russia who are continuing to share the gospel, even in the midst of escalating religious persecution.
  24. Pray for Aram, our SWW coordinator in Armenia, and a group of SWW students as they minister to Lianna, a single mother who suffers from epilepsy and is struggling to care for her family. Praise God that she recently started going to church!
  25. Pray for Roman, one of our ministry partners at Reconciliation Church in Bobruisk, Belarus, as he recovers from a recent tumor removal surgery.
  26. Praise God that Ray and Cindy Le Clair, our missionaries in Ukraine, received permission to translate a teaching website into the Russian language! They are hoping to have it ready for a Christian Education Resource Network workshop for Christian teachers that will be taking place in January 2017.
  27. Please pray that our new SWW students in Gagauzia, Moldova would use their gifts and talents to reach their neighbors for Christ.
  28. Pray that God would be at work in the families that CWW in Pinsk, Belarus is serving so that they might come to accept Christ as their Savior.
  29. Continue praying for Georgiy, one of our SWW teachers in Vladikavkaz, Russia, as he is still trying to resolve a difficult financial situation related to a car accident he was in last year.
  30. Pray that God would lead nonbelievers to Reconciliation Church in Bobruisk, Belarus so that they may come to know Christ.
  31. Please pray for our SWW students in Haifa, Israel as they take their final exams and prepare for graduation.

Give the Gift of Hope on Giving Tuesday

belarus-baranovichi-9In Belarus, School Without Walls (SWW) students in two cities chose to focus their efforts for last year’s Gift of Hope project on chidren with special needs. Young Next Generation Christian leaders in Baranovichi visited an orphanage for children with special needs, while young Christians from Minsk invited children with disabilities and their families to a special Christmas celebration in their church.

belarus-baranovichi-8“We have spent years building a trusting relationship with these families, visiting them in their homes,” shares Pastor Valery from Minsk. “And it was thanks to that trust that these children and their families were willing to attend an event in our church. And while they were overjoyed to receive our specially-prepared Gifts of Hope, we could see that they were even more touched by the gospel message that we shared. Some of them chose to pray prayers of salvation, while many thanked us for sacrificing our time and energy to share God’s love with them.

“I see this project as an embodiment of the core tenets of SWW,” continued Pastor Valery. “The goal of SWW is to make the church accessible to the community, and this project was the perfect example of that.”

belarus-baranovichi-14SWW students in Baranovichi were thrilled that students from two local universities chose to join with them in collecting gifts and distributing them to children at the orphanage. Unfortunately, there is a lot of stigma regarding children with disabilities in the countries of the former Soviet Union, and and many of the children in the orphanage were probably given up by their parents at birth, as they did not think they would be able to cope with the difficulties and shame of raising such a child. These children have very few resources and opportunities available to them, and are in desperate need of attention and love. Therefore this project was an opportunity for the SWW students to shower these children with the love they need and crave, introducing them to the God of love who is with them always, and to help change the perspectives of the university students who accompanied them, by demonstrating God’s unconditional love for these children and their intrinsic value.

givingtuesdaycollageThese are just two examples of the way the Gift of Hope project is transforming lives in Eurasia by sharing God’s love and a message of salvation, changing perspectives, building relationships, and bridging the gap between the Church and a world in need.  However, we need the help of generous friends and supporters to prepare and transport these gifts to thousands of children throughout Eurasia this Christmas season! And this Giving Tuesday, November 29th, each gift given towards this project will be tripled, thanks to a matching gift offer from faithful donors. Therefore each $25 given will not provide just one gift, as it normally would, but THREE life changing Gifts of Hope! And, as long as supplies last, we will send a beautifully-crafted Russian Christmas ornament to everyone who gives a gift of $25 or more. Therefore please consider joining in God’s work and giving towards this project this Giving Tuesday!

Donate_Button_2_up_b