From a young boy’s dreams of becoming a millionaire to the greater reward of becoming a visionary church planter, Ruslan has sacrificed much in a worldly sense to live his life for the Gospel. Our team member, Angela, had the chance to meet with Ruslan, who is a missionary church planter who has been supported by SGA for 10 years.
She writes below, “Many years ago, he dreamed of making millions of dollars, but Christ changed the desires of his heart to dream big for the kingdom.” Please continue to pray for these pastors who are making a difference for the kingdom of God today and looking forward to the day that they will receive their eternal reward in Heaven!
How does it happen, that a boy’s dreams of becoming a millionaire change to a man’s dreams of planting 1,000 churches? What makes a family of businessmen leave a thriving career and move as missionaries to a country drowning in poverty? What changes a heart from desiring to own fancy houses, cars, and phones to praying to reach 100,000 lost souls for Christ?
The answer is Jesus.
Ruslan was born into a poor, nominally Orthodox family in western Ukraine. All of his life, he’d been taught that the only true faith was the Orthodox one, and Protestants, (especially Baptists) were falsely called “sects” who practiced child sacrifice. Yet in 1993, at the young age of 17, everything changed. A new friend invited him to church, and Ruslan thought they were headed to an Orthodox one. Imagine his surprise when the young man brought him to a Sunday service in a Baptist “House of Prayer!” Throughout the service, Ruslan’s only thought was, “I have to get out of here alive.” The worship service stretched on as beautiful hymns filled the building, people took part in communion, and a powerful message sounded. For the first time in his life, Ruslan heard the words, “God loves you and He has a plan for your life.” Although he didn’t understand what was going on, the Holy Spirit touched him and brought him to repentance, right there, at a church into which he never wanted to step foot. Until now, that was the happiest day of his life!
Years later, the Lord blessed Ruslan with a lovely wife, children, and a fast-growing business. He would often take work-related trips. Once, on such a trip to Tajikistan to buy fabric for the furniture his company made, Ruslan was shocked at the conditions in which the people lived. Yet a more profound surprise for him was that many of the Tajik people never even heard of Jesus. After a long spiritual battle and many questions that he asked of the Lord, he gave up his dreams and moved with his family to preach the Gospel in Tajikistan.
Five years later, the family returned to Ukraine, this time to plant a new church. In some time, God blessed their church named “House of Prayer for All Nations” and filled it with people. Soon, Ruslan was invited to be leader of the new church-planting movement in a Ukrainian city, and then in the entire country. During the time of Russia’s full-scale invasion, the Lord opened the eyes of Christians who stayed in the country to start new church plants in one of the largest cities in Ukraine; and Ruslan and team opened 5 new churches in different neighborhoods there.
Many years ago, he dreamed of making millions of dollars, but Christ changed the desires of his heart to dream big for the kingdom. Today, Ruslan and his team continue working in this direction. Ruslan says, “God supports me with Paul’s words in Ephesians 3: Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”