Peter Deyneka, Jr. (1931-2000)
April 7, 1975 — yet another landmark day in the history of Slavic Gospel Association. Staff and guests had gathered together for the mission’s annual dinner, when founder Peter Deyneka announced that he would be retiring after 41 years at the helm. Then he introduced his successor.
“A stronger, younger man has been appointed. He has been an SGA missionary for 17 years. He has served in many capacities. He loves the Lord and has been used marvelously by Him. The name of the new general director will be the same as mine, but the face will be younger.” And with those loving, torch-passing words from his renowned father, Peter Deyneka, Jr. assumed what became the presidency of SGA, which he held from 1975 until his retirement in 1991.
Peter Jr. officially joined the SGA staff in 1958, and the following year worked as a village missionary to Russian Aleuts in Alaska. After two years, he moved to Argentina to teach at SGA’s Russian Bible Institute, serving as director for 15 months. While in South America, Peter also served as a radio missionary over HCJB in Quito, Ecuador, and then at HLKX in Korea, preaching by radio to Siberian Russians. In 1965, he returned to SGA’s U.S. headquarters to serve alongside his father as assistant general director.
Peter Deyneka, Jr., led SGA in days of momentous change. It was hard to foresee in 1975, but the communist Soviet Union would only have 16 years of existence left. Peter Jr. and the SGA team pressed ahead helping churches to reach Russians with the Gospel, preparing the way for the days when working openly in country was possible. Under his leadership, SGA moved to new headquarters in Wheaton, Illinois, where the radio ministry was expanded and a missionary training center was established.
Through film and broadcast, Peter Jr. told a growing national audience about the great spiritual harvest waiting to be gathered in Russia. Prayer efforts were launched, humanitarian aid to the Eastern Bloc increased, Bible training opportunities were expanded, and more SGA international offices were opened. And in 1989, the miraculous happened, as God brought the Berlin Wall crashing down — answering the prayers of the Deyneka family and millions around the world. Tons of Russian-language literature was sent immediately to churches. In 1991 the Soviet Union broke up, ushering in a time of unprecedented freedom for churches across the lands of Russia, and for Western Christians to help their brothers and sisters proclaim the Gospel. That same year, Peter Deyneka, Jr., retired from SGA and he and his beloved wife, Anita, launched a new ministry, Peter Deyneka Russian Ministries, based in Wheaton, Illinois. The Lord exceedingly blessed their new ministries across the former Soviet Union. Then in 2000, Peter Deyneka, Jr. went to be with the Lord after a short battle with lymphoma. Yet his legacy remains with us, as does the legacy of his father, our founder. And by God’s grace, the legacy will continue until our Lord returns in power and glory. In the meantime, Peter, Jr.’s widow, Anita Deyneka, continues to provide leadership for Peter Deyneka Russian Ministries in the Commonwealth of Independent States.