Strategic. Flexible. Hands-on. Bible-based. Creative. These are the core values of Mission Eurasia’s ministry initiatives in the field as we train and equip the Next Generation of young Christian leaders to transform their countries for Christ. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, a key component of our strategy is creating initiatives that are tailored to the specific needs and cultures of the countries where we work.
Currently, we have four major ministry initiatives taking place throughout Eurasia, which are impacting and mobilizing thousands of young leaders to serve their countries: Christian of Our Time, Empower, Family as Mission, and Next Generation forums. Each one of these initiatives is building up the local church in Eurasia and making disciples in the midst of many challenges. We have already seen much fruit from the following initiatives—which have impacted nearly 2,000 young leaders in just the past few weeks—and we are excited to see how God continues to bless them as we serve His Kingdom in Eurasia!
Read on to learn more:
Christian of Our Time
Each Christian of Our Time conference equips young believers to be a light amidst the challenges and questions of their current cultural contexts. Our most recent Christian of our Time event took place on April 29-30 in Zheleznogorsk, Russia. The conference brought together about 300 young Next Generation Christian leaders from surrounding regions. The conference’s theme was “Strive for the Best,” and the speakers challenged the young believers to grow closer to God and to commit themselves to serving Him in every area of their lives. The participants received spiritual food, as well as practical advice for ministry, work, studies and everyday life.
Each April and May, we conduct Empower camp training events to prepare our young leaders to host safe, effective summer Bible camps for thousands of at-risk children and youth throughout Eurasia. This spring we are hosting Empower events in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, and Moldova that will equip more than 700 leaders to host summer Bible camps that will impact an estimated 9,000 children and youth with the gospel! This is in addition to the 11,000 children and youth we plan to impact through the Bible camps hosted by our School Without Walls (SWW) students and partner churches, resulting in a total of 20,000 children and youth reached with the Good News this summer!
We are particularly excited about the first ever Empower event in Russia that wrapped up on May 2. Even in the midst of Russia’s limits on evangelism, the Empower camp in Russia equipped 200 young Christian leaders from 25 regions to lead evangelistic Bible camps that will impact over 5,000 kids and youth with the love of Jesus this summer! These energetic Christian leaders will work through local churches to transform entire communities through the connections made at Bible camps. Russia may be trying to close its doors to the spread of the gospel, but the Good News of Jesus is unstoppable!
Family as Mission
Our Family as Mission conferences are designed around the conviction that strong, stable Christian families are the foundation of the church and society. Our most recent Family as Mission conference brought together 120 people, including some of our School Without Walls students, church partners, and other young leaders. During the conference, four high-impact speakers shared about how to be missionaries to our own children and families, the importance of family worship, and how we can fulfill God’s mission in the world through our families, whether through adoption/fostering or opening our homes to children. After each session was a time for questions and answers, and the number of insightful questions asked was proof that this topic is of interest to many of our young leaders! We were also able to distribute many of Mission Eurasia’s publications at the conference, including Light magazine, Noah’s Ark magazine for children, and other biblical books and resources to help build healthy, God-honoring families.
Next Generation Forums
The heart of Mission Eurasia’s vision is training and equipping the Next Generation of young leaders for ministry, and our Next Generation Professional Leaders Initiative (NGPLI) forums and conferences enable us to expand our impact on the Next Generation beyond just the students we are able to train through our School Without Walls (SWW) program. In just the past few weeks, we’ve presented the vision of NGPLI and SWW to over 1,200 young people through these events:
From April 29 – May 1, a Speak Up Conference in Brest, Belarus drew over 800 young leaders. The purpose of the conference was to equip young people with the tools to courageously speak the truth about God to the world around them—peers, co-workers, family, and classmates. The conference also inspired participants with Mission Eurasia’s vision for the Next Generation as a movement to transform Eurasia for Christ.
One of the conference participants shared how the Speak Up event inspired him for practical ministry:
“The theological background and real-life examples of missions in profession that I heard about at the conference helped me understand the importance of my work,” shares Sergey, age 25. “I was glad to learn that God values my work as highly as that of full-time ministry workers. I made a commitment to improve the quality of my work and my motivation, thereby setting a good example and creating more opportunities to share the gospel with my coworkers. Most of all, I was overjoyed and relieved to know that I can serve God through my profession without a sense of guilt that I am not engaged in full-time ministry in the traditional sense!”
Another recent Next Generation event that Mission Eurasia participated in was called Revolution: How Millennials Can Change the World, which was organized by our ministry partner Walk Thru the Bible. At the event we introduced our School Without Walls program to more than 500 young people, who also received copies of our ministry resources.
Thank you for enabling Mission Eurasia to train, equip, and mobilize the Next Generation to transform their countries for Christ through these creative, high-impact ministry initiatives! Please give to support the Next Generation today:
Upcoming NGPLI Event:
Time for Professionals Forum
On October 14, 2017, a Next Generation Professional Leaders’ Initiative (NGPLI) event called the Time for Professionals Forum will take place in Lutsk, Ukraine in partnership with the Ukrainian Biblical Theological Seminary (UBTS). Our Time for Professionals Forums are strategically designed to equip Christians professionals in six influential fields: education, business, law, medicine, science, and technology.
We expect at least 500 young Next Generation professionals will attend the forum, where they will participate in interactive seminars, network with other Christian professionals, and learn proven ministry models from a panel of inspiring speakers who are leaders in their own professional fields and in the church, including Mission Eurasia’s executive field director, Dr. Michael Cherenkov, and prominent faculty from UBTS.
Since our first Time for Professionals Forum in 2014, these forums have equipped and empowered more than 15,000 Christian professionals, their churches, and their workplaces.
“My friends invited me to participate in a Time for Professionals Forum that took place in Kiev,” shared Paul, an IT worker from Ukraine. “The message had a powerful impact on me. I learned that my vocation and abilities are gifts from God and intended for His glory. To follow Christ, I am called not just to serve Him on Sunday, but to serve Him from Monday to Saturday as well. My workplace is one of the best places where I can show Christ’s love to nonbelievers . . . Christians have great reserves of patience, love, and hope that should inspire us to work harder and serve those around us. Ever since the forum, I have been growing in my witness at work, and I have led four of my colleagues to accept Christ!”
By giving these young men and women the tools and training for ministry and connecting them with supportive networks of other Christian professionals and leaders, we are positioning them for sustainable, holistic, life-long ministry. Even more importantly, by investing in these young Christians, we are investing in the future of the church in Eurasia—each one of the professionals equipped by NGPLI events is positioned to serve their churches more effectively and be compelling representatives of their congregations in the broader society.
Please join us in praying for the next Time for Professionals Forum happening on October 14, 2017. May God continue mobilizing the Next Generation of Christian professionals throughout Eurasia for the witness of the church and His glory!
Together: Minsk, Belarus
Last week, nearly 1,000 young Next Generation Christians gathered at a landmark youth congress in Minsk, Belarus called Razam! (“Together”). We were grateful for this opportunity to partner with the Baptist Union of Belarus to bring together so many talented, passionate Christian professionals from all over the country. One of the main training tracks of the congress was focused on the importance of missions in the professional sphere: motivating young Christians to use their vocations for ministry and training them to bring Christian values into modern society. Bringing a biblical worldview into the workplace is one of the most effective ways to influence society for Christ, and the 20 ministry leaders and speakers at the “Together” congress imparted their biblical wisdom and practical ministry expertise to the young men and women at the congress–ensuring that these 1,000 Next Generation leaders will continue bringing a biblical worldview into their vocations, schools, communities, and other spheres of influence.
As one of the congress’ senior guests noted, “Mission Eurasia’s strategic Next Generation Professional Leaders Initiative, which trains young Christians to lead and equips them to serve, is exactly what the church in Eurasia needs today to motivate talented Christians to see their vocations as God’s calling in their lives so they can bring the gospel to society!” Senior leaders from Mission Eurasia Field Ministries had a wonderful opportunity to inspire hundreds and thousands of young Belarusian Christians to carry the transforming influence of the gospel into modern society.
Praise God for these incredible opportunities provided by School Without Walls and NGPLI to influence the youth of Eurasia for Christ and His Kingdom!
Please partner with us in changing lives and give to support Mission Eurasia’s work to train and equip the Next Generation of young men and women in Eurasia for strategic, compassionate, and effective gospel ministry:
As Russia continues to escalate religious freedom restrictions in the country, our young Next Generation Christian leaders in Russia and the rest of Eurasia are becoming more creative and strategic in how they share the Good News.
Just last week, the Russian Supreme Court rejected an appeal of a previous ruling that labeled Jehovah’s Witnesses an “extremist group” and banned their activity. This is part of a larger trend of the Russian government cracking down on religious minorities in the country, particularly evangelical Christians. However, when we talk to our School Without Walls (SWW) students and graduates and national Mission Eurasia staff, they are sober-minded about the growing threats to religious freedom, but they are also resolute and filled with a passion for sharing the love of Christ despite increasing challenges. “We serve God and not men,” many young believers are saying.
Our Next Generation leaders are always on the lookout for innovative ministry opportunities outside the walls of the church. Already, they are preparing special Scripture resources and outreach initiatives for summer 2018, when the FIFA World Cup will be held in Russia. The FIFA World Cup is the largest single-event sporting competition in the world and attracts millions of spectators. Our national Mission Eurasia staff and leaders see this event as an exciting opportunity to share God’s Word with thousands of hurting people. Russia’s religious freedom restrictions are creating challenges, but they are also inspiring many new opportunities for ministry.
In light of increasing challenges to traditional evangelism in Russia, and other countries of Eurasia, our Next Generation leaders have found that personal friendships and connections with classmates, coworkers, family, and neighbors are the most effective way to share the gospel. This is why initiatives like School Without Walls and the Next Generation Professional Leaders Initiative (NGPLI) have never been more vital or more timely. The informal, flexible structuring of the SWW program is designed to train and equip young Christians for creative, strategic ministry in any context: workplaces, universities, neighborhoods, schools, rehab centers, war zones, and of course, churches. And our NGPLI events bring together thousands of Christian leaders from hundreds of vocations and empower young professionals to be an example in their workplaces so that others may learn about their faith and be open to the gospel message. Many of these professional leaders are in positions of great influence—doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers—and they are able to model the Christian life in contexts where the church alone cannot reach.
Please continue to keep our SWW students and graduates and national Mission Eurasia staff in your prayers, particularly as they plan for their outreach at the FIFA World Cup next year. We are taking these new challenges very seriously, but we have also been amazed at all the doors God has opened in the midst of these restrictions. We eagerly anticipate the great things He will do through the faithful witness of believers in Russia and Eurasia in the coming months and years!
Alima is a young Christian professional in Kyrgyzstan who teaches math to primarily Muslim students. After attending one of Mission Eurasia’s Next Generation Professional Leader’s Initiatives (NGPLI) forums in Bishkek, Alima was encouraged and filled with new conviction and ideas for sharing the gospel through her profession. She shared her story with us:
“I am a math teacher at a Christian school in Kyrgyzstan. I’ve always had a penchant for numbers, and when I had to choose between working as an accountant or a math teacher, I chose to be a teacher because I wanted to be able to connect with students. Moreover, I believe that, as a Christian, my calling is to work professionally while also building relationships with people so I can share my faith.
“I am a second generation teacher, as my mother was also a teacher. My father worked in technology and was considered a master of his craft. From my parents I learned the value of working hard, and from the Bible I learned that my work should glorify Christ. The intellectual environment that I work in has a huge need for the gospel, and the best way to respond to this need is by talking with people. God has entrusted me with my profession, and I believe that this profession is also my ministry. It is a great responsibility to share the truth of the gospel with others.
“The NGPLI forum in Bishkek touched me deeply, and I was freed from the guilt I used to feel because I didn’t think I could serve God through my job. It also helped me understand that work is an opportunity for ministry, and along with working hard, I also need to stand by my values, even if it’s detrimental to me professionally. My colleagues recognize me as a disciple of Christ, not because they see me at church (they don’t attend), but because of my work ethic and compassionate interactions with them. The NGPLI forum also helped to further establish my belief that my main focus should be people, because God has given them great value.
“The children at my school are from Muslim families; therefore I try to be a blessing whenever I talk with my students and their parents. The parents trust me, because they know I want to provide quality education, and because they trust me as an educator, they are also more likely to trust what I say about God. For me, it’s important that I have a mentor to inspire my work, so I always think about how Jesus would teach. We young Christian professionals have a great responsibility to work well in the midst of a system where people want to work less and receive more. I don’t work like this, because I believe that I am working for the Lord, and I hope this serves as an example for others.
“During the Soviet era, it was almost impossible for believers to pursue higher education and work in influential professions. Moreover, many people were afraid of evangelical churches, because they considered them to be sects. But today, much has changed, and sometimes people come to my church and sit through the service just so they can talk with lawyers who attend the church. I have even heard stories of people repenting after hearing the gospel while they were waiting during the service! This is a perfect example of how professionals add prestige to a community, and the Church is no longer afraid, because they know there are influential Christians in our society. And this is also an example of how we are called to bring the gospel to our nation through our professions.”
Even though Christians in Uzbekistan often suffer religious persecution at the hands of local authorities, the School Without Walls (SWW) coordinator in the capital city of Tashkent, and a group of SWW graduates, organized a round table discussion on the Next Generation Professional Leaders Initiative (NGPLI) for 35 young professionals from four different churches. The lack of religious freedom in Uzbekistan makes NGPLI even more relevant in that context, as traditional means of sharing the Gospel are very risky.
“I’m prepared to go out of my way to help my clients resolve problems with our product. I do my work well and respect my clients. They see this and value it,” shared Shahrat,* a Christian businessman who spoke about the impact his faith has had in his professional context. “I never hide my faith, and my good relationship with my clients allows me to share the Gospel with them. I’ve seen many people change, and three have already accepted Jesus and been baptized as a result of me sharing the Gospel with them!”
Sukhrob* is a SWW graduate from Uzbekistan who attended the round table and shared how his SWW training prepared him to share his faith through his work, even in difficult circumstances: “SWW helped me see how my faith can impact my community. When I finished my bachelor’s degree in education, I was the only one in my graduating class who decided to go teach in a small remote town. I knew that there was a desperate need for teachers in the region, and children often end up spending all day outside as there is no one to teach them. I decided to go to this poor, rural area to teach those children.
“Everyday life in this region is very difficult, and it isn’t easy to teach children who often work in the fields and aren’t used to learning. However, I see this as my mission, and I take every opportunity to not only pass on knowledge to my students, but to also teach them about the Creator. I also build relationships with the parents. In small towns everyone knows everyone else, and teachers have a position of respect in the community. I don’t think that I would have had such amazing opportunities for sharing the Gospel in any other situation anywhere else in the country! Two of my fellow SWW graduates helped raise money to dig a well, which was a huge need in my town, and together we have been able to earn the people’s trust and tell them about God. Over time a small group of believers has formed, the only such group for hundreds of kilometers! We work together, support each other, and serve Christ together!”
If you would like to support other School Without Walls students and graduates like Sukhrob, who are finding creative and effective ways to share their faith at great personal risk and despite difficult circumstances, you can give to our Next Generation Christian Leaders Initiative here:
“Evangelical churches in our country are not very numerous, but we aspire to impact our society and we are grateful to School without Walls for their help in this,” shared Arash*, a national School Without Walls (SWW) coordinator for Tajikistan, speaking to 80 young Next Generation Christian leaders at a Next Generation Professional Leaders Initiative (NGPLI) conference last week.
Tajikistan is over 90% Muslim, and Christians who openly share their faith risk persecution from their families, in the educational system, and from employers. Therefore, the goal of the conference was to pass on a vision of influential Christianity to these young Tajik Christians and to inspire and teach them how to be witnesses for Christ and transform their society through treating their workplace as a mission field.
Bahram*, a university student, shared how the conference’s message impacted him: “It’s not easy being a Christian in our country. Many people tell me that I’ve betrayed the faith of our ancestors. It’s difficult to find work in Tajikistan, and a majority of men find that they must travel to Russia to find jobs to support themselves and their families. But I don’t want to leave – I love my country, and I want to serve Christ here! This conference has helped me understand how I can do that. I was inspired by the vision of sharing Christ in the workplace. I believe that God will help me find a job in Tajikistan which will allow me to be a witness for Him among my future coworkers!”
The conference served as a follow-up to the first NGPLI Forum in Central Asia, which brought together 500 participants from around the region in Kyrgyzstan in November 2016. It is important for Christians in these countries, where openly evangelistic events are not allowed and believers face heavy restrictions on their activities, to gather together to encourage and learn from one another in their efforts to influence their communities for Christ.
Kamran* is a high school teacher and youth ministry leader, as well as a local SWW coordinator. “I brought 14 high school and university students from my town to this conference,” he shares. “It’s important for them to see other believers and to hear that they are called by Christ to have strong faith as leaders. They are all first generation Christians, and many are experiencing persecution in their families, but SWW and this NGPLI conference are helping lay the foundation in them for powerful, committed Christian life and ministry. I will continue to mentor and disciple them and help them grow in this after the conference.”
Thank you for your faithful prayers and support, which enable us to invest in young Next Generation Christian leaders who will in turn transform their society with the Gospel!
*name has been changed
- 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.
- Pray for an upcoming Next Generation Professional Leaders Initiative (NGPLI) conference that will take place in Belarus this month.
- 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.
- Pray for our School Without Walls (SWW) leaders in Israel, as they are planning to start a new SWW group in the Czech Republic.
- 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.
- Praise God for providing resources and ministry opportunities in Russia, even in the midst of escalating religious persecution!
- 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.
- 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.
- Please pray for our ministry workers and missionary partners who are dedicated to sharing the gospel with the unreached throughout Russia’s North Caucasus.
- Pray for our team in Ukraine as they meet with the leaders of professional networks in Kazakhstan, Moldova, and Russia.
- Pray for safety for some of our SWW students in Uzbekistan, as they are experiencing challenges with local authorities.
- 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.
- Pray that God would grant wisdom to Vyacheslav, our SWW coordinator in Yekaterinburg, Russia, as he develops new ministry initiatives.
- Please pray that SWW students in Armenia would continue growing spiritually and sharing the gospel with their neighbors.
- Pray that young Christians in Saratov, Russia would actively participate in ministry efforts in their community.
- Pray for our plans to publish several ministry resources for young Christian professionals throughout Eurasia.
- 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.
- 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.
- Praise God for our ministry center in Vladikavkaz, Russia, through which we are expanding our ministry efforts, including church planting, in this volatile region!
- 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.
- Please pray for SWW students in Yekaterinburg, Russia as they begin their internships at local churches.
- Pray for Denis, our NGPLI director, as he develops and expands this strategic ministry throughout Eurasia.
- Pray for our SWW coordinators in Russia as they expand our ministry efforts in the North Caucasus and the Transcaucasia region.
- Praise God for our ministry leaders who are faithfully serving in Central Asia, despite the challenges they face!
- Please pray for our ministry team in Ukraine as they lead an NGPLI conference in Minsk, Belarus today.
- Pray for Georgiy, one of our SWW leaders in Vladikavkaz, Russia, as he is trying to obtain Russian citizenship.
- Pray that God would provide a new leader for the youth ministry at God’s Family Church in Minsk, Belarus.
- Please pray that God would grow the children’s ministry at Spiritual Renewal Church in Vladikavkaz, Russia.
A recent School Without Walls (SWW) seminar in Kyrgyzstan focused on helping students respond to the unique challenges they face in their country following a recent incident. After a 76-year-old Christian woman passed away, Muslim leaders wouldn’t allow her to be buried in the local cemetery due to her faith, so her family had to dig up her body and bury her in a different village. However, the people in this village also didn’t want her to be buried in their cemetery, so her body was unearthed again and moved to a cemetery at a Russian Orthodox Church. Yet again, this burial was also not approved, so without informing her relatives, her body was dug up for a third time and taken to an unknown location.
There have been many instances like this, but this particular case has gotten a lot of publicity among Christians, and throughout Kyrgyz society as a whole. Many churches are now uniting in prayer, fasting, and taking action by appealing to local authorities and the media. This case even went beyond Kyrgyzstan’s border, as many international organizations have expressed their disapproval of these acts. However, despite the very negative reaction to this incident, public attitudes towards Christians have not improved.
This case helped local leaders to develop the main question for this special SWW seminar: “How can I, as a Christian, help transform my country and the people who live here?” The students focused on Jesus as the ultimate example. He excelled in all aspects of life: intellectually, physically, socially, and, of course, spiritually. He could speak on any subject, not just spiritual topics. He was well versed in agriculture, business, fishing, and family matters. “Like Him, Christians should also be well-versed in the various aspects of modern life,” shares the SWW coordinator who organized the seminar. “If we only focus on spiritual development and ignore all other areas of life, then we won’t be able to connect with people outside the church. Along with pastors, our country also needs Christian businessmen, doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc.” This is the primary motivation behind the Next Generation Professional Leaders Initiative, which helps motivate and equip young Christian professionals to share their faith in the workplace.
“I realized that I need to grow,” Alyona, one of our SWW students, shared regarding the seminar, “not just spiritually, but also in other areas of life, so that people will be comfortable talking with me.” As a result of the seminar, some of the SWW students expressed a desire to study the Koran in order to more effectively share the gospel with Muslims. Christina, one of these students, can speak several languages, and recently she started teaching language classes for non-Christian children at her church!
Please pray for these students as they seek to put what they learned into practice and find creative ways to reach their communities with the gospel!