Russia (MNN) – It’s been a year-and-a-half of growth since the Slavic Gospel Association launched its long-term, frontier ministry—the Reach Russia Now initiative. And since then, SGA has seen the initiative cultivate from a dream and into a ministry.
Far East Russia
The Reach Russia Now initiative primarily focuses in Far East Russia. For some people, Far East Russia is the equivalent of Siberia. However, Siberia is actually the middle region, or middle third, of Russia. Far East Russia is the final third of the country, stretching to the Pacific Ocean, and is made up of many different people groups who share both the country and the Russian language.
(Map courtesy of SGA)
Speaking of the land mass size, Far East Russia is roughly the same size as the continental 48 states of the United States.
Yet, this vast region only holds five percent of Russia’s population. Needless to say, the cities and villages which occupy Far East Russia are remote and often hard to reach.
But, the Reach Russia Now initiative is helping to break down these barriers for the Gospel.
“Reach Russia Now is a broad-based initiative filled with many different aspects. An exciting aspect of Reach Russia Now is an aviation aspect,” shares SGA’s Eric Mock, who was recently in Far East Russia. “Part of the reason that many of these villages have never been reached is many of these villages have no good year-round accessibility.”
Through partnership and support, SGA is helping train pilots who fly national missionaries to these villages. These are pilots are trained in the United States and certified in Russia. And, when they fly into these villages, they encounter people who have never heard of the Gospel or even seen an airplane.
In fact, a lot of these villages have cultures which are deeply embedded with Shamanism, a practice that people use to reach an altered state of consciousness in efforts to interact with the spiritual world.
SGA’s Immanuel’s Child ministry is gearing up as Russian Christmas approaches January 7. (SGA Photo)
However, Reach Russia Now is also helping support those churches in the region who are Bible-believing and Bible-teaching churches. How? By helping the same way it helps other churches across Russia and Central Asia: through partner supported funds.
“Only this year, through Reach Russia Now, have we begun to support missionary pastors, lay-leaders, and missionary work to orphanages, Compassion Ministry, Immanuel’s Child, summer camps—all that is just fresh,” Mock explains.
SGA has found over 340 orphanages that have seldom been reached with the Gospel. Now, SGA is trying to reach these orphanages through the Orphans Reborn program. This program helps to both provide for physical needs and spiritual needs of orphans through the work of local Christians.
Challenges and Barriers
Still, there are numerous challenges to reaching these villages beyond the physical barriers. Many villagers do not trust outsiders and will sometimes kick visitors out of their village within hours of their arrival.
Villagers also don’t really listen to what an outsider has to say until the outsider has earned their trust. In fact, some villages even have Shamans who speak against what outsiders bringing the Gospel say.
For these reasons, ministry in Far East Russia is difficult. And while parts of the ministry do rely on monetary funds, a large part of the ministry requires the necessary time to travel to and build relationships within these villages.
Will you consider helping SGA continue to get the Gospel into the Far East Russia? Start with praying for God to raise up more missionaries willing to travel to these small villages, and for the villagers to have open hearts. Pray for these missionaries to be able to learn how to communicate with the villagers in ways that help them understand the Gospel.
Also, pray for SGA as it continues to serve the few churches that are in Far East Russia. Finally, pray for God to provide the necessary funds to continue coming alongside the churches, missionaries, and pilots in Far East Russia.
Another way to help is by helping provide the tangible needs to these missionaries, pilots, and churches. Will you consider donating?
Learn more about the Reach Russia Now initiative here!
To donate, click here!