Olenka’s Testimony: Serving Orphans in Ukraine

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:

Sona’s Testimony: From Emptiness to Hope and Meaning

Sona is a vibrant young Next Generation leader from Armenia who is being trained through our School Without Walls program. She shared her incredible testimony with us of how God filled the emptiness of her life with love, meaning, and lasting hope in Him:

“I am 20 years old, and I became a believer when I was 15. My parents got divorced when I was 10, and after my father left, I was very angry and I felt so empty without him. I closed myself off emotionally and tried to pretend like I was tough. When I was 14, I asked myself, Why am I here. Why I was born? I believed that God existed, but I imagined that He was far away and that I was alone on earth.

“I tried to fill the void in my heart with science, school, and music, and eventually, I started listening to heavy metal. The more I listened, the more aggressive I became, and it started affecting my relationships with my mom, sister, and friends. I would just sit alone in my room and listen to heavy metal music online, where I met a lot of bad friends. They sent me even more music and tried to get me to start smoking. Thankfully, I eventually decided to end these relationships.

“One day, I went to an Orthodox Church because I was looking for God, but I didn’t feel any connection with Him there. I prayed that He would take away my life, because I didn’t see the point in living anymore. I even attempted suicide, but thank God that I lived! My mother is a believer, and two of her friends from church would often come over to talk about God. I always avoided them and scoffed at their beliefs. However, one day I was desperately trying to figure out the meaning of life, so I decided to join their discussion. While we were talking, I felt the call to repent, but my pride still held me back. Thankfully, I finally overcame my pride and accepted Christ, who filled my life with love and meaning.

“For me, School Without Walls (SWW) has been the best tool for learning about evangelism. I had wanted to share my faith with others, but I’d always had a hard time explaining the gospel effectively. I knew that everyone needed Christ, but I didn’t know the best way to actually talk with people about Him. At SWW, I learned helpful strategies for sharing the gospel in ways that people can understand. The Business As Mission class was also very helpful, because before this class, I didn’t know what my professional talents were, but now I feel prepared to succeed in whatever vocation I pursue.

“My SWW training has also helped me mend my relationships with my mother and sister, because I realized how important it is for me to make time for my family. I also felt called to serve the poor and needy in a nursing home, and reach out to teen girls. Because of my own experiences with emptiness, I am able to understand the struggles that young people face, and I want to help them realize that only God can fill their lives with true love and meaning. I also hope to find a good job, which I can enjoy and use to serve God. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to find jobs in my city, because of the social situation in my country. Many people are even going to Russia to look for work. I pray that God would provide a job for me so I can take care of myself and serve Him.”

Praise God for His amazing work in Sona’s life! And please join us in praying that God would provide a job for Sona in Armenia.

To support the training and equipping of  young Next Generation Christian leaders, like Sona, who are proclaiming the gospel throughout their communities, please make a gift to our School Without Walls program:

 

 

Transforming Society in Kyrgyzstan

20161029_122742

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!

Donate_Button_2_up_b

A New Home for Natasha

20160806_121230

“When we first met Natasha’s family, their home was in a terrible state,” shares Denis, one of our School Without Walls (SWW) coordinators in Moldova. “Their two-room house was too small to comfortably accommodate Natasha and her six children, very dirty, and insufficiently heated. Natasha and her partner often drank and left the children alone without supervision.” Denis and his team of young Next Generation Christian leaders started providing the family with food, clothing, firewood, and other aid as soon as they heard about their situation, however when authorities learned about the family’s situation they came and took the children away, explaining that Natasha’s parental rights would only be returned if she could provide adequate living conditions. However Natasha was unable to find better accommodations with her limited resources, and started to lose hope of getting her children back.

Saddened to see the family torn apart, the SWW students decided to do something to help. They contacted some ministry partners in Europe, who agreed to help them purchase a house to serve as the family’s home until the children have grown up. They also decided to monitor the family’s situation to make sure the children were being treated well. “For us, this was a new experience that required more of our time, but we believe that our support will bear fruit in the children’s lives,” Denis shares. “Now, Natasha and her children have settled into their new home, which includes a nice bathroom and kitchen, and five bedrooms. The children are so happy that they have such a large, beautiful yard to play in, and Natasha is so grateful for our support, which she never expected to receive.

“We have been visiting the family regularly to talk with Natasha and check on the children. They have started going to a local church every Sunday, and I can already see that Natasha’s outlook is changing and she is much more concerned for her children’s well-being. I know that we still have a lot of work to do with her, but I believe that God is at work and blessing our efforts.”

If you would like to support School Without Walls students as they reach out to their communities throughout Eurasia with practical aid and the transforming power of God’s Word, you can give online here:

Donate_Button_2_up_b

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

Our Next Generation Leaders Need Your Support

img_6877There has never been a more urgent time to train and equip young Christian leaders in Eurasia to share the gospel effectively in the midst of challenges and difficulties. The only way to fight the current spiritual darkness of Eurasia is by raising up strong young Christian leaders who can shape their culture and influence their nations for Christ.

Funding is still needed before the end of the year to provide School Without Walls (SWW) training seminars and Next Generation Professional Leadership forums. Please give today to equip and encourage young leaders to be more effective witnesses for Christ.

Your gift will equip young leaders like Rashid from Azerbaijan:

“I have been a Christian for quite a long time,” shares Rashid. “However, it isn’t always easy to share my beliefs with others, and I used to wonder if it was possible to share my faith in a way that people could understand, while also showing that I don’t have anything against them. After attending the SWW event in Shirvan, Azerbaijan in October, I realized all of the daily opportunities I have to serve those in need and share in their sufferings. I decided to start small by finding one person that I could serve and share Christ’s love with daily.

“At the same time, I was also looking for a job, and after praying about it, I was invited to work on a construction site. I rode to the site with several of my coworkers, and so I started talking to the guy sitting next to me. He shared about the challenges he was facing, and it soon became clear that he had heard about Christ and read the gospel before, but he wasn’t currently pursuing faith. Now, he was overwhelmed with misfortune. He had crashed his car, which left his wife in the hospital where she had to receive very expensive treatment. He was also sent to prison in Ganja, and since the conditions there are so bad, the prisoners are sent to work, but they have to give part of their monthly earnings to the prison. At first, I wondered if I really needed to help him, but then I remembered the SWW session, and I realized that God was giving me an opportunity to help this man.

“Not long after, I invited him to work on a project with me, which I knew was risky, because if there had only been enough work for one person, then I would have needed to let him take the project. Thankfully, there was plenty of work for both of us, and we were able to get a lot done very quickly. Now, my friend has already earned enough to cover two months of his prison fee and buy some new clothes! He is also coming to my home Bible study group with me! He hopes to build a new life for his family, and I am very thankful that, using what I learned at the SWW session, I was able to help him take a step toward God. This is what I’ve always wanted to do ever since I became a Christian!”

Please give today to support and training and equipping of Next Generation leaders like Rashid who are faithfully bringing the gospel to their nations. Tax-deductible gifts for 2016 can be made on our website until 11:59 PM Central Time on December 31, 2016.

Donate_Button_2_up_b

Sharing Christ in the University

“My parents teach at a local university in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, and I knew from a very young age that I also wanted to be a teacher,” shares Anara. “This is a very honorable profession in Central Asia, and teachers are often called ‘Mughal,’ which means ‘honorable person.’

gd3a3303“After I accepted Christ as my Savior, I started going to church, where I got involved in School Without Walls (SWW). I was particularly impressed by the courses that focused on talking with Muslims about Jesus, and I started questioning how I could possibly share the gospel with my students and still be regarded as an ‘honorable person.’ I was afraid, because I thought I would be fired right away if I talked about my faith at work. My parents also warned me that it would be impossible for me to share the gospel with my students.

“I was so discouraged that I considered pursuing a different profession so that I could share my faith more easily. However, during this time, God revealed to me that He was still calling me to teach at university, and I realized how important it is for teachers to share the gospel with their students, especially in Muslim countries. Therefore, after graduating from university, I started teaching at the same university where my parents work. I decided that I would stop at nothing to share my faith, so I talked about God in all of my lectures. I was pleasantly surprised to find that my students appreciated my teaching.

“The population of students at the university has changed a lot during the past few years. Many wealthy parents in Bishkek started sending their children to study in other Muslim countries, such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia, so our university started accepting students from remote cities and villages. Sadly, our students from Bishkek are often unkind to these new students. However, for me, I know that I must be salt in these students’ lives by sharing Christ’s love with them. More importantly, I must also be light by witnessing to them about the salvation and eternal life that only He offers.

img_8715

“Now I am teaching my own SWW course to train and equip students to share the gospel in their workplaces. Some of my university students have even started studying at SWW! Not long ago, I thought it would be impossible to use my role as a teacher to share the gospel in a Muslim country, but today, my students call me ‘Mughal!’”

You can help train more Next Generation Professional Leaders like Anara to reach their countries for the Gospel! To support School Without Walls and NGPLI training programs for these leaders, you can give online here: 

Donate_Button_2_up_b

 

November 2016 Prayer Requests

img_4150

  1. Praise God for several forums and seminars for Christian teachers that Ray and Cindy Le Clair, our missionaries in Ukraine, and the Christian Education Resource Network held in October!
  2. Please pray for God to bless our ministry efforts in Russia’s North Caucasus, particularly School Without Walls (SWW) and our church planting projects.
  3. Pray that God would grant wisdom to Natali, our SWW coordinator in Minsk, Belarus, as he and his wife are starting a couple’s ministry called Seventh Heaven.
  4. Pray for Artur and Serop, two SWW students in Armenia, who are actively involved in organizing Christian concerts, one of which will be taking place this month.
  5. Pray for SWW efforts in Moldova, as our students are planning to expand their youth outreach by hosting training seminars in local schools, and holding special events at a local church.
  6. Praise God for the leaders of Spiritual Renewal church, our SWW students, and our other ministry partners in Vladikavkaz, Russia, who are all actively involved in reaching local youth with the gospel!
  7. Please pray for courage and endurance for believers in Kyrgyzstan, as the government is attempting to amend the constitution to further limit religious freedom.
  8. Pray for God to continue using our SWW students and the leaders of Reconciliation Church in Bobruisk, Belarus to expand and grow His Kingdom.
  9. Pray for a group of SWW students and teachers from Siberia, Russia as they prepare for an upcoming mission trip to Mongolia.
  10. Continue praying for Robert, a man who recently accepted Christ and works for the local authorities in Armenia, as his boss recently asked him to choose between Christ and his job. Things have calmed down, but he is still in a very difficult position.
  11. Praise God for three new SWW branches that started in Moldova this year! Please pray that the students would be actively involved in reaching out to their communities.
  12. Pray for Yuriy, our SWW coordinator in Pinsk, Belarus, as he undergoes medical testing for his chronic headaches.20160925_152400
  13. Please pray for God to provide new ministry opportunities for our brothers and sisters in Russia as they continue sharing the gospel, despite escalating religious persecution.
  14. Continue praying for an end to the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine so that those who are suffering can start to rebuild their lives.
  15. Pray that God would grant wisdom to the leaders of Church Without Walls in Pinsk, Belarus, as they recently started an English as a Second Language class for non-Christian youth.
  16. Praise God for a Next Generation Professional Leaders Initiative (NGPLI) forum that will be taking place in Kyrgyzstan this month!
  17. Please pray for Ivan, our SWW coordinator in Mongolia, Russia, and Siberia, as his wife, Luba, is currently undergoing chemotherapy.
  18. Pray for upcoming SWW events that will be taking place in Chaykovsky and Perm, Russia.
  19. Pray for our ministry team in Israel, as they are planning to open a youth center in Haifa for young people who want to learn about church planting.
  20. Please pray for the health of our ministry team in Ukraine and their families, as many of their children have been sick lately.
  21. Praise God that many young people in Russia have gotten involved in our Bible study groups!
  22. Pray for God to be at work in the hearts of those in Belarus who have fallen away from Him.
  23. Pray that God would grant wisdom and courage to our SWW teachers in Georgia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.
  24. Please pray for our ministry team in Russia as they continue preparing for a large youth conference that will be taking place in Khovd, Mongolia later this winter.
  25. Pray for an NGPLI conference for Christian counselors that is taking place in Belarus on November 26.
  26. Pray for our SWW teachers in Armenia as they continue training and equipping young people for ministry.
  27. Please pray for Georgiy, one of our SWW teachers in Vladikavkaz, Russia, as he is facing a difficult situation involving a car accident that he was in last year.
  28. Praise God that many evangelical churches and organizations in Kyrgyzstan are interested in getting involved in NGPLI!
  29. Pray for our regional youth ministry center in Minusinsk, Russia, where 30 young people from Siberia and Mongolia are learning how to effectively share the gospel in their own communities.
  30. Please pray for the final preparations for our Gift of Hope Christmas outreach for children. This year, we plan to distribute 74,000 Gifts of Hope in Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine!