SGA Vice President of Ministry Operations
If there is one thing that I can say after many visits to the former Soviet Union, it is this. Believers there truly live the faith that they profess. Because of seven decades of atheistic communist rule that oppressed the church and the suffering that endured, their faith is precious to them like fine gold. In the overwhelming spiritual darkness that surrounds them, the light cast by believers is quite noticeable. Their joy and their peace are unmistakable against a dark background. A single candle in darkness casts a profound light. Therefore, when people distant from God encounter believers living out their faith, they are drawn towards that same faith. And we saw this during a summer camp in Ukraine.
One family that had suffered greatly was overwhelmed by what they saw this past summer, first with aid through SGA-supported Compassion Ministry and then through a Summer Bible Camp. One young mother wrote,
“My name is Lera and I have three daughters. Due to the situation in the country, my husband lost his job, and we have a very difficult situation in the family. Fortunately, we got acquainted with some people who were Christians and we could see that people may live as one happy family and help each other. One day they came to us and offered food packages. They told us about a God who loves all people and loves us, too, and they invited our girls to the Christian camp. Every evening, the girls would come back home in a joyful, cheerful mood, and told us with enthusiasm about everything they saw, heard, and experienced in the camp. The girls would go to other camps, but they liked the Christian camp the most. They said that it was so interesting and fun, and different than other camps they attended. And now they are waiting for the Sunday school to begin. Thank you all very much!”
Through the faithful ministry and witness of the local church, Lera and her daughters not only heard the Gospel, but also saw it in action.
And not only did parents see the witness of the believers, but also the children, and that had great impact on the parents. I loved to read the testimony of one young boy that attended.
“My name is Yura and I am 8 years old. I live with my mom and two older sisters; our dad left us. My sister Angelina, who is 17, was invited by a classmate to a youth group in the church. She went and really liked it there. Angelina told me that the church has a Sunday school for children, and that there would also be a Christian camp. I was also invited. But our mom didn’t like it. She also did not let Angelina go to the church at first. Then my mother decided to go to church and see herself. She went there, she saw it with her own eyes and after considering, she let me go to the camp. I really liked being in the camp. And I like Sunday school, too. I learned that God loves everyone, and also that Jesus is the best friend!”
This is a wonderful account of what God is doing through your prayers and support, as well as the tireless labors of the churches we serve across Russia and her neighboring countries! As followers of Christ, we are to show the world what God is like, that our words and lives testify to the fullness of His majesty and grace in Jesus Christ. May we too be so transformed by Christ that we stand out in our world as a beautiful witness for all to see, even when society around us seeks to compromise the message. As the Apostle Paul admonished us, we are “ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).
Please continue to pray for the children and these families, that they would be drawn to saving faith in the Lord. Also pray for those who have come to faith, that they would be strengthened daily as new disciples of Christ.
In some nations, camp outreaches face significant opposition and must be carried out discreetly, but they continue to bear much fruit.
Even as Christmas activities came to an end last season, a church in Russia's Irkutsk Region was already planning for this next year.
Your donation will help change lives in former Soviet Union countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia.