One of the world’s most inspiring pillars of Christian faith went to be with his beloved Heavenly Father today. The passing of the Reverend Billy Graham moved us at Mission Eurasia to reflect with immense gratitude on his rich life of service to God’s Kingdom and the ways in which his ministry and ours intersected by God’s grace over the years.
Mission Eurasia’s president, Sergey Rakhuba, remembers first meeting Billy Graham in 1987, during the height of the Soviet Union, at a dinner for evangelical pastors in Russia. Sergey shares the memory of this inspiring meeting with Rev. Graham in Moscow and the impact it had on Sergey’s future ministry and the ministry of Mission Eurasia:
“For pastors who had to faithfully lead their churches under the pressures and challenges of the Soviet regime, this dinner with Rev. Graham in Moscow was an encouraging and faith-building night in the midst of a fearful and uncertain time,” says Sergey. “It foreshadowed the growing gospel movement that would spread across Eurasia when the Soviet Union fell a few years later . . .
“My closest colleague, Dr. Michael Cherenkov (Mission Eurasia’s executive director of field ministries), was also impacted forever by an encounter with Billy Graham in Russia. In 1992, a year after the fall of the Soviet Union, Michael remembers traveling as a young man and brand-new Christian from faraway Donetsk, Ukraine to the Red Square in Moscow in order to hear the great Rev. Graham preach to a crowd of thousands. Michael called this an ‘unbelievable miracle,’ writing, ‘In the center of Moscow, not far from the Kremlin, the most famous evangelist in history preached the gospel to thousands, and everyone who wished could freely obtain a formerly forbidden Bible. A revival had started, which promised reformation and renewal.’
“Inspired and captivated by what he had seen and heard that day, Michael returned to his village in Ukraine under the influence of Billy Graham’s message. Feeling the promptings of God’s call and seeing a colossal need for the gospel in post-Soviet society, Michael made a decision. He would be a preacher, an evangelist, and a catalyst for reformation and renewal in the post-Soviet sphere. And so Michael began working with Mission Eurasia (then Russian Ministries) to continue this gospel movement across Eurasia, where it blossoms and flourishes to this day as we train and equip thousands of young Christian leaders for strategic ministry.
“Like Michael and myself, many of the men and women who heard Rev. Graham preach in Russia on that miraculous day in 1992 went on to be trained as church-planters and evangelists, working with Mission Eurasia and other ministries to plant churches, serve the lost, train new Christian leaders, and deliver God’s Word and the message of Jesus to a broken and hurting post-Soviet world.
“The incredible legacy of Billy Graham is still being felt in the heart of Eurasia today and in the hearts of those who serve with Mission Eurasia. We grieve his passing from this world, but we rejoice that Rev. Graham is united with his beloved Savior and hope for the day when we, too, will be united with our Savior and every tear will be wiped away.”
Artem is a current School Without Walls (SWW) student in Russia. He shared with us about his calling to do ministry and how the SWW training program and the examples of his SWW peers are encouraging him and pushing him forward in his service to the Lord:
“I’m 21 years old, and I live in the Krasnodar region. I accepted Christ in 2012, and a year later I was baptized. My parents are also believers, and I grew up going to church and learning about God. I always felt like He was preparing me for something, so I asked Him what His plans were for me, and I felt an urgent call to study church planting at a college in Omsk. I’ve finished my first year of study, and now I am going to do a year of practical ministry training in church planting.
“For the past year, I’ve regularly attended School Without Walls (SWW) seminars, and I have been very inspired and encouraged by the testimonies of those who led these events. I learned a lot about missionaries who are doing ministry work in other parts of the country, even though it is challenging. The challenges missionaries face sometimes frighten me, but at the same time, I know that I have chosen to experience these things by deciding to be a missionary. I’ve also learned a lot of practical information at SWW, and this knowledge is very helpful, since I am still learning about missionary work. I believe SWW will help me make new disciples for Christ.
“Now I am facing a choice: I can either use my life to serve the Lord through ministry, or I can ignore all I’ve learned and walk away from Him. And this I know for sure: the example provided by the SWW leaders inspired me to continue pushing forward in my ministry to expand God’s Kingdom. I want to express my deep gratitude to everyone involved in SWW. I’m so grateful for your active, sacrificial service.”
1. Praise God for a team of 10 young people from ShareWord Global (formerly The Gideons International in Canada) who recently helped us share the gospel with more than 1,000 at-risk children at 12 of our summer Bible camps in Moldova!
2. Pray that God would provide opportunities for our brothers and sisters in Russia to continue sharing the gospel, even in the midst of the challenges posed by new anti-terrorism laws.
3. Please pray that God would be at work in the hearts of children throughout the former Soviet Union/Eurasia during this last month of our summer Bible camp season.
4. Pray that God would grant wisdom to the leaders of Church Without Walls (CWW) in Pinsk, Belarus as they continue developing their ministry strategy.
5. Pray for Andrei, one of our ministry workers in Ukraine, as he participates in the Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering in Indonesia on August 3-10.
6. Praise God for providing new leaders for our ministry center in Vladikavkaz, Russia who are committed to expanding School Without Walls (SWW) throughout the volatile Northern Caucasus and the Transcaucasian region!
7. Please pray for our ministry workers in Moldova as they prepare to open three new SWW locations this fall.
8. Pray for Aram, our SWW coordinator in Armenia, as he continues visiting sick people in his community.
9. Pray that our containers of humanitarian aid for Ukraine would clear customs quickly so that we can continue bringing desperately needed clothing, food, wheelchairs, and other goods to those in need.
10. Praise God for a kids’ club that SWW graduates are leading in several different villages in Perm, Russia!
11. Please pray for several upcoming events, including camps, movie nights, outreaches to orphans, picnics, and prayer meetings, that Reconciliation Church in Bobruisk, Belarus is planning.
12. Pray for a new youth center that we are opening in Haifa, Israel in partnership with the Living Israel congregation.
13. Pray for a group of new SWW students in Russia as they prepare for an upcoming bike trip that SWW leaders are organizing.
14. Praise God that 63 orphans heard the gospel during a recent summer Bible camp hosted by CWW in Pinsk, Belarus!
15. Please pray for our ministry workers throughout Central Asia as they continue sharing the gospel, even in the midst of escalating religious persecution.
16. Pray that God would grow evangelical churches in Russia’s Northern Caucasus and provide new opportunities for our SWW students in the region to reach young people by partnering with local schools and universities.
17. Pray for Denis, our Next Generation Professional Leaders Initiative (NGPLI) director, as he prepares for an upcoming NGPLI conference in St. Petersburg, Russia. Please also pray for his wife, who was recently diagnosed with cancer.
18. Please pray that God would provide for the needs of God’s Family Church in Minsk, Belarus and b less the ministry efforts of the church’s SWW students.
19. Praise God that thousands of at-risk children in Belarus, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan recently received copies of 101 Favorite Bible Stories, which we designed in partnership with Christian Aid Ministries!
20. Pray for Aleksandr, one of our ministry workers in Russia, as he will be presenting NGPLI at an upcoming conference in Krasnoyarsk.
21. Please continue praying for the leadership of CWW in Pinsk, Belarus, as they are still struggling to register with the government.
22. Pray for our ministry workers and SWW students in Armenia as they prepare for two big Christian concerts that will take place in Gyumri and Ijevan at the end of the month.
23. Praise God for new believers who were recently baptized in Vladikavkaz, Russia and are now joining in our ministry efforts!
24. Pray for Sasha, a SWW student in Bobruisk, Belarus, who was recently drafted by the army.
25. Please pray for SWW students in Israel as they continue sharing the gospel with Russian-speaking immigrants.
26. Pray for our ministry workers in Ukraine as they present NGPLI, as well as several of our other ministry initiatives, at the International Missionary Forum in Kiev on August 26-27.
27. Pray for Pavel, our director in Russia, as he prepares for an upcoming trip to Canada, where he will meet with several of our ministry partners.
28. Please pray for the members of Reconciliation Church in Bobruisk, Belarus, as many of them are struggling to find work.
29. Praise God for new SWW groups that will be starting in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia’s Northern Caucasus this fall!
30. Please continue praying that God would bring about an end to the conflict in Ukraine.
31. Pray for the launch of our 2016-2017 SWW program, which will start in September.
Konstantin’s ministry is primarily among the indigenous Tatar people, who are culturally Muslim and were exiled from Crimea by the Soviet regime in the 1930s. After coming to know Christ a few years ago after receiving a Gideon’s New Testament in prison, Konstantin was captured by the vision to do ministry among his own Tatar people in the Omsk region, particularly the youth, through a teahouse he started in the center of town. Through the connections he made at the teahouse, Konstantin was able to start a small church plant using a church planting manual published by Mission Eurasia. Amazingly, in just the last year, more than 50 men and women in the town have accepted Jesus as their personal Savior and are now enthusiastic members of the growing church plant, currently meeting in a café in town.
Konstantin’s church is now in urgent need of funding to purchase a space for their growing ministry. The café where they currently meet will soon be taken over by new tenants, and their landlord no longer wants to rent to them. A total of $30,000 is needed to purchase a home in town that will be used as a church meeting place and youth ministry center. Through great personal sacrifice, Konstantin’s church has already raised the first $10,000.
Now we need to raise an additional $10,000 in donations that we will match with a gift of our own to the church. Please, if you are able, consider making an investment of eternal significance in the life of a growing young church in a region in urgent need of the gospel. Your gift will enable the ministry of Konstantin to reach more and more people with the good news.
Konstantin’s vision for shepherding and mobilizing a Next Generation of young Christian leaders in the Omsk region is what fuels his ministry to the youth of the town—and the new space his church is purchasing will also serve as a youth center, where young men and women in the village can gather to hear the gospel and learn from Christian mentors.
So please, considering giving to support the ministry of this vibrant church in the heart of Siberia—which, by the grace of God, is growing quickly despite countless obstacles and challenges.