Mission Eurasia is proud to announce the selection of our 2017 Next Generation Christian Leaders Scholarship recipients! The Next Generation Christian Leaders Scholarship (NGCLS) is an annual scholarship awarded to full-time college undergraduates or high-school seniors planning to attend college. The scholarship is intended to encourage recipients to pursue ministry in Eurasia and develop innovative ministry initiatives in the region, and applicants must have experience with Slavic culture and speak Russian or Ukrainian at a conversational level.
This year Mission Eurasia will award a total of $32,500 in scholarships to seven recipients. The NGCLS has already had a positive impact on the academic studies and ministry initiatives of our past recipients. We are so excited to see how this year’s scholarship recipients use their talents, educations, and abilities to further God’s Kingdom in Eurasia and beyond.
These seven bright young men and women are each dedicated to Christ and His church and committed to a future of serving the people of Eurasia through practical, gospel-based ministry. We are pleased to introduce you to this year’s outstanding NGCLS recipients:
1. Joanna Bantseev—Joanna is a second-year NGCLS recipient currently majoring in nursing at Liberty University. Her family originally hails from Russia, where they were involved in ministry through their home church in Siberia. During school breaks, Joanna regularly returns to Russia, where she serves on both the youth leadership team and evangelism team at her home church. After her college graduation in 2020, Joanna plans to return to Russia and use her nursing degree at a local hospital to “help those who are broken and hopeless find hope through Jesus Christ.”
2. Lyubov Draga—Lyubov will attend Central Piedmont Community College in the fall as a freshman where she will major in music. She grew up in a Slavic family that has been extensively involved in ministry to the Slavic people. Lyubov has experience in missions to Ukraine and has worked with Ukrainian refugees in Italy. After graduation she would like to work with children in the Slavic Christian community using her music degree.
3. Aleksandr Glavnik—Aleksandr will be a junior this fall at Wheaton College, where he is majoring in computer science. He is a third-year NGCLS recipient. After graduation, Aleks plans to use his degree as a communication tool that can help spread the gospel effectively in the former Soviet Union/Eurasia. Click here to watch Aleks describe how the NGCLS has impacted his studies.
4. Emile Rose Petruk—Emile will be attending Moody Bible Institute in the fall where she is majoring in Bible and pre-counseling. She has been involved in evangelism to Russian-Jewish immigrants in her community, volunteered with Jews for Jesus in Israel, and traveled on mission trips to Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. After she graduates in December 2018, Emile would like to use her counseling degree to help suffering people in Eurasia find healing and guidance.
5. Mark Kapran—Mark will be attending Temple University in the fall as a freshman majoring in biology. He is involved in a number of different ministries, including translating church services from Ukrainian and Russian to English at his home church. After he graduates in 2021, Mark hopes to attend medical school, eventually returning to Ukraine to help the country heal physically and spiritually.
6. Vitaly Sukhanov—Vitaly will be a junior this year at Wheaton College where he is majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry. He serves as one of the leaders at a local Russian church in Villa Park, IL, where he helps with youth ministry, teaching, and evangelism. After his undergraduate work, Vitaly hopes to attend medical school and become involved in medical missions in Eurasia.
7. Ashley Edwards—Ashley will return to Wheaton College as a senior this fall, where she has majored in philosophy and biblical studies and theology. She spent much of her childhood and youth in Russia and Ukraine with her missionary parents. As a result, she is fluent in Russian and comfortable with the Slavic culture. After graduation, she plans to return to Eurasia to write apologetic works in philosophy and theology while evangelizing the unreached and helping disciple new believers.
Congratulations to the 2017 Next Generation Christian Leaders Scholarship Recipients! May God continue to guide them and bless their lives and ministries.
Check out our interview with Aleksandr Glavnik about the NGCLS:
Thank you for keeping our ministry in your prayers this month!
1. Please pray for an upcoming three-day evangelistic event that Church Without Walls (CWW) in Pinsk, Belarus is hosting at a local university.
2. Praise God for 15,000 copies of the Gospel Without Borders New Testament that our School Without Walls (SWW) students in Russia recently received and are planning to distribute during their various ministry efforts!
3. Pray for God to be at work in Avdeyevka, Ukraine, where the recent escalation of violence has left thousands of people with limited access to food, water, heat, and electricity in the midst of freezing temperatures.
4. Pray for CWW in Pinsk and Reconciliation Church in Bobruisk, Belarus, as they are still trying to register with the local authorities.
5. Please pray for our various ministry initiatives in Vladivostok, Russia, including a local youth center, outreach to students at local schools, summer Bible camps, and SWW.
6. Pray for our ministry efforts in Container Town, a very poor area in Armenia, where our SWW students are sharing the hope of the gospel with those in need.
7. Praise God for the Christian Education Resource Network, which Ray and Cindy, our missionary partners in Ukraine, are using to encourage and develop Christian education in the nation!
8. Please pray that God would provide for the various needs of God’s Family Church in Minsk, Belarus, including a new person to lead their youth ministry and a building in which they can hold services and conduct ministry.
9. Pray for our SWW coordinators in Russia’s North Caucasus as they find the balance between ministry work and family time.
10. Pray for Venya, a pastor with Living Israel, our ministry partner in Israel, as he and his family feel called to move to the city of Beer Yaakov and plant the city’s first church.
11. Please pray that Ukraine’s Minister of Education would implement much-needed education reforms that will benefit Christian schools in the nation. Several Christian school directors have been invited to participate in government-level discussions about this very topic, which is very exciting!
12. Pray that the young people who participated in recent evangelistic events in Kazakhstan would continue to pursue the Lord.
13. Praise God for a group of young people from Reconciliation Church in Bobruisk, Belarus who will be participating in a short-term mission trip to Kenya!
14. Pray for our ministry team in Vladivostok, Russia to continue growing their relationships with unreached people through our Grace Café and other ministry initiatives.
15. Please pray for three upcoming SWW sessions in Khovd, Ulangom, and Ulistai, Mongolia.
16. Pray for Alex, our international director for SWW, and Denis, our director of NGPLI, as they travel to Uzbekistan for a roundtable event for young Christian professionals.
17. Pray for our international SWW coordinators as they participate in a ministry-planning meeting on March 17-18 in Irpin, Ukraine.
18. Pray for an English as a Second Language program that CWW in Pinsk, Belarus is using to share the gospel with non-Christians.
19. Please pray for upcoming Next Generation Professional Leaders Initiative (NGPLI) events that we will be hosting in Russia.
20. Pray for several of our ministry leaders in Armenia who are also serving in their churches and pursuing advanced degrees.
21. Praise God for our ministry team in Russia’s North Caucasus as they expand our SWW program and form new partnerships with local schools!
22. Pray for Christian teachers in Ukraine who will be completing the third session of a four-part Christian Education Resource Network training program in late March.
23. Please pray for the leaders of Reconciliation Church in Bobruisk, Belarus as they continue planning new ministry initiatives, while also supporting their congregation.
24. Pray for two upcoming NGPLI events in Tajikistan that will help young Christian professionals learn about sharing the gospel with Muslims.
25. Pray for our ministry team in Russia’s North Caucasus as they continue sharing the gospel with the unreached, despite the challenges they face.
26. Pray that our SWW students from Armenia would be able to reschedule their trip to Georgia, where they hope to conduct musical outreach, after having to cancel their original trip.
27. Praise God for a new church that is being planted in the village of Ardon in North Ossetia, Russia!
28. Please pray for SWW students in Kazakhstan who are working with the deaf community, as they are experiencing challenges with local police.
29. Pray for Hafis, one of our SWW coordinators in Russia’s North Caucasus, as he is trying to register his home church with the local authorities.
30. Pray for Christian schools and teachers in Russia who are facing challenges due to the anti-missionary laws that were passed in July.
31. Please continue praying for our “I Care” Refugee Assistance Program in Ukraine, where millions of people are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.
Olenka graduated from School Without Walls (SWW) in Rovno, Ukraine in 2009 and is now using what she learned as a SWW student to minister to orphans through an organization called Circle of Friends. She organizes a team of 100 volunteers from around Ukraine to reach 1,000 orphans on a monthly basis.
“SWW had a big impact on me as a young Christian,” shares Olenka. “It was SWW that made me want to get involved in ministry to orphans. Without SWW, my life path would look completely different.”
Olenka and her team visit orphanages in the Kiev area on a weekly basis and travel to orphanages all over Ukraine 3-4 times a month. “For me, it’s important to build long-term relationships with the children. Continuity and consistency are important to me in my ministry. You can’t expect to make a difference in the life of a child you only see once or twice a year. My goal is to become family to them. We fight to find a place in their lives and hearts.”
Circle of Friends also helps provide medical care for orphans, find adoptive families, and assist orphanage graduates in applying to college and in finding jobs. Orphanage directors and staff are also extremely grateful for the help they offer.
This ministry has started to show long-term results. Andrei grew up in an orphanage, and he came to Christ thanks to the influence of young Next Generation Christian leaders who regularly visited him and the other children. Now he is 26 years old, and he is active in ministry to the homeless.
“My personal mission is to help orphans discover their God-given potential,” shares Olenka. “With each visit, we tell the kids that God made them special and has a calling for each of them. The Great Commission is my greatest motivation to serve, and I see my work with orphans as a fulfillment of it.”
If you would like to help train and equip other enthusiastic young Next Generation Christian leaders like Olenka to transform their communities throughout Eurasia, you can give online to School Without Walls here:
In 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.
“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.”
SWW 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.
These 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!
Sadly, even though he is still very young, 12-year-old Ivan and his five siblings have endured a lot. Their parents are always drunk, and there is never enough food on the table. After the war broke out where they live in eastern Ukraine, things only got worse, and Ivan and his siblings struggled to survive.
Thankfully, about a year ago, Ivan’s neighbors noticed how poorly he and his siblings were being treated, so they invited them to their church, which happened to be one of our many local partners. Ivan loved the church, where he made many new friends and accepted Christ as his Savior! Ivan’s siblings still go to church with him, but he is the only one that never misses a service, and now he wants to get baptized!
After learning about Ivan’s difficult home life, the church leaders gave him MannaPack rice meals, which we provided in partnership with Feed My Starving Children. Now, Ivan and his siblings receive MannaPack meals on a regular basis, and local believers can see how these meals have lifted their spirits. A woman from Ivan’s church taught him how to cook the meals, and now he enjoys coming up with new recipes. We are continuing to pray for Ivan’s family, and we trust that God will be at work in his parents’ hearts as He continues using the MannaPack meals to bring them hope, even in the midst of darkness.
If you would like to help bring hope in the midst of darkness to others in need in war-torn eastern Ukraine, you can give online to our “I Care” project, which covers the cost of shipping of containers of MannaPack rice meals, wheelchairs, clothes and more, as well as providing local churches with Scriptures to give to members of their community.
Alexey is 90 years old and lives in Kiev, Ukraine. After serving as a lieutenant in WWII, he worked several other jobs. When he finally retired, he was in very poor health. Alexey’s health has continued to decline in recent years, and his limited use of his legs makes it impossible for him to leave the house on his own.
While receiving treatment at a Christian rehabilitation center, Alexey met a family from a local church: Alexander and Larissa and their two children, Angelina and Maxim. Alexander and Larissa had been forced to abandon their family home due to the ongoing war in eastern Ukraine, and they had been living for the past few months in a friend’s home. Alexander and Larissa took good care of Alexey at the rehabilitation center and formed a friendship with him. When it was time for Alexey to return home, he invited Alexander and Larissa and their children to live with him!
Now, Alexander, Larissa, Angelina, and Maxim have a new home–and Alexey has found a loving family to take care of him. For several years, Alexey had felt so alone in his apartment, but now he has found new joy, hope, and strength.
School Without Walls (SWW) students in Zaporozhye recently visited Alexey and his new family, bringing food packs, Scripture pieces, and a brand new wheelchair for Alexey. With Alexander and Larissa’s help and his new wheelchair, Alexey is finally able to go outside and enjoy the fresh air again! Alexey and Alexander’s family are so thankful for the goods our SWW students brought, and they were even more encouraged by the SWW students’ prayers, which reminded them they are not alone or forgotten–they are loved by God and loved by their Christian family.
Help us continue to meet the urgent physical and spiritual needs of those suffering from the conflict in Ukraine:
The village of Maryinka, Ukraine is situated right on the front line of the fighting taking place in the eastern part of the country. Shelling and bombing are still a daily reality, and many are surviving in homes that have been damaged by bombs, with unstable electricity and water supply, forced to hide in their cold and dark basements many nights. The town has no jobs, no future, limited medical care, and children and adults are have been traumatized by the war. Day-to-day life is about survival, with a small but desperate hope that one day things will get better.
It was in this context that the Bread of Life Bakery opened in Maryinka this past spring. Since then it has produced well over 300,000 loaves of bread, over 50,000 of which have been distributed for free. The rest are sold at affordable prices, helping ensure that local residents have the bare minimum they need to survive. The bakery has also provided 25 people with jobs.
However not only has the bakery provided local residents with physical food, but over the last seven months over 2,000 people have heard the gospel and around 400 people received Jesus as a result of this ministry. The local church, which started with two people before the war, has grown to 70 regular church goers. This church celebrated this summer when 20 people got baptized.
Preparations are also underway to open bakeries in the towns of Selidovo, Dobropolye, Mirnograd, and Avdeevka, which have a combined population of over 125,000. The model in each town will be the same as that in Maryinka – baking 2,000 loaves of bread daily and selling them at affordable prices, and giving away 300 loaves daily to those in the greatest need. In addition to helping meet basic physical needs, these bakeries would meet spiritual needs by introducing people to God and His Word, as well as providing much-needed jobs in a region with high unemployment. A few of these towns already have small churches, and our hope is that through this project these churches will grow and have the opportunity to reach a much larger segment of the local population with the gospel.
Please pray for our young Next Generation Christian leaders in the region who are working tirelessly to make this vision a reality in more towns. And if you would like to give towards the cost of equipment and supplies for additional bakeries, you can give online here:
Mission Eurasia’s School Without Walls (SWW) program is a flexible leadership and ministry training program that trains and equips young Christian leaders in Eurasia and Israel to transform their communities from within. Some of our SWW graduates go on to traditional ministry roles after graduation, like church planting, pastoring, and full-time evangelism—all God-honoring vocations that are crucial to the body of Christ. But many of our graduates emerge from School Without Walls with the vision that their personal mission field is their own schools, neighborhoods, and workplaces. They put the tools that they’ve received from the SWW program to use as they share the gospel within their unique circles of influence and live their everyday lives as a testament to the transforming power of the gospel.
Veronica, one of our 2013 SWW graduates from Belarus, recently shared with us how her SWW training gave her a new perspective on how to be an ambassador for Christ—both inside and outside the walls of the church.
In Veronica’s own words:
“I studied at School Without Walls (SWW) from 2011 to 2013. Not long before then, most of the high-level people at my job had left their roles, and I was struggling to continue our programs on my own. I felt completely helpless. During this difficult time, my church started hosting SWW classes, and the very first lesson was about leadership. Before SWW, I thought that leaders were always in control and never showed weakness. But through this program, I learned that every leader faces challenges, and I realized that I could draw strength and comfort from God during difficult times. This was such an encouraging realization for me.
“Last September, I took a step of faith and left my former job, where I made good money, to follow God’s call to work at the Good Prospects youth ministry center. I know that I’m moving in the right direction, and I believe that our work will lead to powerful results. Before SWW, I thought that ministry happened only when people came to church, but during my training, I learned that the church must go out into the community. I also learned about Christian values and how to lead evangelistic events for young people, as well as how to encourage them to invite their non-Christian friends to these events.
“Along with SWW, I’ve also attended Next Generation Professional Leaders Initiative seminars, where I learned that work is an opportunity for ministry. I used to think that it was most important for God to be discussed in church, but now I realize that we can also glorify Him and grow His Kingdom in our workplaces.”
Each year, School Without Walls equips over 2,500 young Next Generation Christians, like Veronica, to be strong leaders and gospel messengers who are serving God, transforming their communities, and ministering to others—no matter their location or vocation. These grounded, passionate national Christian leaders are the best way to infiltrate the darkness, despair, and sin that pervades their surrounding culture and transform it with the message of hope and salvation that only Jesus can provide.
Give today to support the training and equipping of Next Generation leaders in Eurasia who are impacting their nations for Christ: