Archive for the ‘Updates’ Category
Thursday, February 21st, 2013
For the last nine years, Pastor Thomas Kang has been building his dream home in Russia. He designed “House of Joy” to be large enough not only for his own family, but to serve as a retreat for low-income families and the children of soldiers (Pastor Kang is a former military chaplain) and as a gathering place for Christian celebrations and prayer services.
But the dream turned into a nightmare when Pastor Kang and his assistant Ekaterina were summoned to the local immigration office just the day before “House of Joy’s” opening celebration . . . and Pastor Kang never came out again.
Police wanted to talk to them about one of Pastor Kang’s builders, a Ukrainian whose work visa had expired only days earlier. They told Pastor Kang he had to pay a 2,000 ruble fine, which he was willing to do.
However, they then began to question Pastor Kang—a Korean-born naturalized U.S. citizen—about his own activities, accusing him of unspecified violations and threatening him with shadowy punishments. As hour after hour went by in meaningless questions and no concrete charges, it became clear to Pastor Kang that they were simply trying to extort a bribe, an all too common practice. He declared his intention to leave, paid the fine and added a 1,000 ruble “open giving of thanks” to help the police in their work.
Immediately, the officer he was speaking to called in other officers who were waiting outside and arrested Pastor Kang.
Ekaterina, who is in fragile health, was detained overnight without food or water while they continued to question her about vague accusations of wrongdoing. She was released the next day, but Pastor Kang was sent to a detention center.
Without informing Pastor Kang, his family, or his lawyer, police then searched Pastor Kang’s apartment in Moscow, claiming they were looking for recordings of his voice, although they didn’t say why. This might have explained the removal of computers and cell phones from the home, but does not explain the disappearance of several unrelated valuables and 28,000 rubles.
More than four months have passed, investigators have still not produced the legally mandated report of the search to Pastor Kang, and he is still being held at the detention center on a charge of attempted bribery. What was the source of the vague threats against Pastor Kang at the immigration office? Why is such a simple matter taking so long to resolve? Is it specifically to keep him from opening “House of Joy” for Christian worship, or a more subtle attack of Satan against this devoted man of God?
Russian Ministries is committed to raising awareness about Pastor Kang’s plight and advocating for his release. Please pray for Pastor Kang and his family during this difficult and frightening time. And as God leads, please give to Russian Ministries’ Religious Freedom Fund, to provide support and emergency aid for persecuted Christians in the former Soviet Union/Eurasia.
Tuesday, February 19th, 2013
At 9:20 a.m. local time Friday, a meteorite exploded over the Chelyabinsk region of Russia. Amateur video shows a thick streak of smoke and flame low in the sky, and then the camera is shaken by a loud sonic boom and shockwave.
At least 1,000 people, including some 200 children, are reported injured, mostly by flying glass as the blast shattered windows. Praise God, at this time there are no reports of fatalities, although some people are still hospitalized.
Russian Ministries has a presence in Chelyabinsk through a School Without Walls program, summer Bible camps, and the Gift of Hope Christmas program.
Pastor Mikhail Guts of Chelyabinsk spoke with Pavel Tokarchuk, our Russia Director, shortly after the incident. Pastor Mikhail’s son, who was in school at the time, said that the blast caused his desk to hit the wall. Mikhail’s wife said the blast was so strong it felt like the whole house jumped.
According to Pastor Mikhail, people in Chelyabinsk began to panic and run out into the streets. Someone screamed, “It’s the end of the world.” Local authorities called on people to stock up on water and stay home. Pastor Mikhail asks for your prayers for the injured, and also as the believers in the region minister to their frightened neighbors.
Although the injuries reported have so far not been serious, and no believers have been reported injured, please also pray for those whose homes and businesses were damaged, and for those who were left terrified by the incident.
Updates will be posted on our Facebook page. For more information or to schedule an interview, contact Russian Ministries at: 630-462-1739 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, February 4th, 2013
During the last several years the global community has observed a sharp increase in religious freedom restrictions and violations in the countries of FSU, including: the fining, arrest and imprisonment of religious leaders; forced closure and liquidation of churches; the ongoing confiscation and destruction of religious literature, and much more.
As a result of this alarming trend, Russian Ministries (USA), in cooperation with its global partners listed below, and the Office of Congressman Joe Pitts (R-Pennsylvania) are sponsoring a briefing on religious freedom issues in Eurasia/Former Soviet Union, with a focus on causes of suppression of religious freedom. The briefing will take place:
When: Wednesday, February 6, 2013, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Where: Rayburn House Office Building, Room B-340, Washington, D. C.
Light lunch will be served.
The purpose of the briefing is to:
1) Raise awareness among political leaders, religious leaders, human rights and advocacy organizations and the media about the general state of freedom of religion in Eurasia/Former Soviet Union.
2) Analyze some of the causes of increasing restrictions on freedom of religion, including such issues as blasphemy and anti-extremism laws in Russia and bans on legal existence in Central Asian states.
3) Highlight specific cases of violations of freedom of religion and encourage support from the global community.
Prospective speakers will include:
- Ed Brown, Senior Human Rights Advisor, Stefanus Alliance International
- Anatoly Pchelintsev, JD, Co-Chairman of the Slavic Center for Law & Justice, Attorney-at-Law
- Matti Sirvio, Founder of the Greater Grace Protestant Church in Azerbaijan
- Rasim Khalilov, President of the Evangelical Alliance of Azerbaijan and Pastor of the Word of Life Church
- Peter Ivanov, Uzbekistani Lawyer
- Ivan Pashkevich, Former Deputy Chief of Staff for President Lukashenko (Belarus)
Russian Ministries, Wheaton, IL is spearheading this event in cooperation with the following supporting organizations:
Stefanus Alliance International, Oslo, Norway
Light to the People, Stockholm, Sweden
Christian Solidarity Worldwide, London, UK
Religious Liberty Partnership
To indicate your interest in attending, please RSVP to Wade Kusack, Russian Ministries’ project manager for religious freedom issues
(email: email@example.com or phone: 630-462-1739).
Monday, September 10th, 2012
With September comes the start of a new school year for children and students across the former Soviet Union. This year, thousands of these young people will begin the new school term with something new and unexpected: a knowledge of Jesus Christ they discovered at one of our summer Bible camps.
The camp for those with disabilities was especially poignant. Campers came from Zaporozhye, Poltava, Summy, Donetsk, and Khmelnitsky. Like all the other camps Russian Ministries sponsored, when they arrived they found local School Without Walls students and other Christians to love and care for them. The photos in this e-news update show some of the campers and staff from the camp.
Praise God with us that, with help from people like you, Russian Ministries helped sponsor more than 6,000 campers this past summer. Your prayers and financial support helped make it possible for us to reach out to these children and students.
The camp included people with mental or physical disabilities.
Large group sessions focused on Jesus and the truths of the Bible geared especially for the camps.
Fun songs and motions brought smiles too everyone.
Times for songs and personal testimonies stimulated questions.
Special guests made the Bible seem real.
One-on-one interaction demonstrated care to the camper and gave them the opportunity to share from the heart.
Children had the chance to share Bible verses or personal truths to others during group meeting times.
On their way to a gathering.
School Without Walls workers helped lead the fun and the Bible learning.
Skit times gave people a chance to have fun and encourage one another.
To pray regularly for Russian Ministries, click here.
To give to support the training of local workers in followup, click here.
Thursday, December 15th, 2011
“And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.’” Luke 2:10-11, ESV
Dear Friends of Russian Ministries,
This Christmas, we thank God for sending His Son to be the Savior of all the world . . . and we thank you for helping to carry that Good News to the furthest reaches of the former Soviet Union.
May God richly bless you this Christmas season and throughout 2012.
Merry Christmas from Sergey Rakhuba and the staff of Russian Ministries
Wednesday, January 26th, 2011
In an interview with Mission Network News, Sergey Rakhuba, president of Russian Ministries, gave his perspective on the bombing at Domodedovo Airport. Rakhuba is encouraged that national evangelical leaders are standing together and reaching out to their communities with a “message of hope, a message of love, a message of comfort in Jesus Christ.”
Read the complete interview here.
Friday, October 1st, 2010
A closer look at Sergey Rakhuba, new president of Russian Ministries (co-founded by Peter Deyneka, Jr. and his wife, Anita, in 1991)
“My dream is to train the Next Generation of church leaders to pick up the baton of faithfulness from the older generation, and adopt new innovative approaches for contemporary outreach ministry that will change the former Soviet Union for Christ,” declares Sergey Rakhuba, the new president of Russian Ministries.
Sergey is convinced that the hope for the future growth of the evangelical movement and the church rests squarely on the shoulders of young Next Generation Christian leaders of the former Soviet Union.
A Faithful Life in the Midst of Change
God has been preparing Sergey for the position of president of Russian Ministries for many years.
Sergey was born into a Christian home in the small town of Bryanka, Ukraine. He grew up under the oppressive grasp of Soviet atheism. His Christian parents and three siblings never dreamed of all the changes their family would face.
“We were the only Christian family in town,” Sergey remembers, “and I wondered why we were treated differently from other families.” Sergey was often singled out and ridiculed as the only Christian in his entire school.
The family moved to the larger city of Zaporozhye to give their children better lives and more opportunities, and later, after Sergey served his mandatory two-year term in the Soviet army, to Moscow.
Sergey was at the center of change when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Peter Deyneka Jr., the founder of Russian Ministries, discovered this young leader in the church in Russia and was quickly impressed by Sergey’s pastoral, evangelistic and administrative abilities.
Sergey’s passion for training others bore much fruit when he oversaw the establishment of 21 evangelism and church-planting centers in key regions of the former Soviet Union. That same energy helped Sergey create our cornerstone ministry, School Without Walls. Now in 65 locations in eight countries of the FSU and led by a national team, School Without Walls trains and equips its 2,375 students for strategic and innovative ministries that will reach the Next Generation in the former Soviet Union.
A Link between the East and the West
Anita Deyneka, Sergey’s predecessor and, along with her husband, Peter, co-founder of Russian Ministries, describes Sergey as “one of the finest Christian visionaries and administrators I have met anywhere in Russia. He has been with us since we began and was instrumental in helping us organize our ministry in the former Soviet Union. I am grateful for this excellent network of national workers and ministry partnerships in Russia, Ukraine and the other countries of the former Soviet Union. Much of this is because of Sergey’s efforts.”
Sergey’s passion and vision for training the Next Generation of young Christian leaders in his homeland have shaped and informed Russian Ministries’ strategic outreach in the countries of the former Soviet Union.
A Personal Look
Sergey graduated from Moody Bible Institute (Chicago, IL) in 1995, and is an effective preacher and experienced conference speaker, specializing in mission issues related to Russia and the former Soviet Union.
Sergey lives near Wheaton, Illinois with his wife, Tanya. They have three children-grown children Dmitri and Yevgenia (Geni)-and two-year-old Sophia.
Monday, August 18th, 2008
Russian Ministries’ in-country affilate, the Association for Spiritual Renewal, is passionate about puppets, and this was abundantly evident at the Puppet Festival that took place by the shores of the Sea of Azov in Ukraine.
In describing the purpose of the ministry, Sofia Gorbatiuk, who was part of the puppet festival team, said, “This is not just an excellent opportunity for Christian artistry, but it is a very effective means to witness to the secular world. Children are our future, and the puppet theater is a unique way to tell them about God and faith.”
Elena Milua, who conducted scriptwriting workshops at the puppet festival, wrote the following article.
They Came to Learn
By Elena Milua
Editor of Pathways Magazine
Each of the puppet teams is unique, and each is needed and valuable because it conveys the good news about Christ to a dying world. We know that each team is actively involved in ministry. We heard amazing testimonies about presenting shows in Internats, hospitals, nursing homes and juvenile prisons. All of these performances are achieving one goal: to show people the way to God’s Kingdom.
No proof is needed to show that children love puppet shows. It is even difficult for adults to hide their emotions when fairy tales are brought to life on the stage. But these tales have meaning and wisdom behind them—the wisdom of God.
This was the first time I attended the Puppet Festival that the Association for Spiritual Renewal has held for six years. Sixty teams with 400 participants came from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Azerbaijan. Some of these teams were formed recently; others have been in existence for several years. Children are members of many of the teams, while other teams are made up of adults.
The shows presented during the five-day festival represented various topics and themes including Christmas shows, Bible stories, moral fables and fairy tales.
During the festival, we discussed topics such as: What is the difference between a miracle and magic? How should evil be portrayed on the stage in a way that does not make it too attractive for the viewer? How can biblical truths be included in the plot so that the plot affirms and explains those truths using the puppet show as a vehicle?
At the evening discussions, festival participants shared their opinions, which varied widely. But they were unanimous about one thing: these festivals are absolutely necessary for puppet teams.
Experienced and strong puppet theaters such as “Candle” from Zaporozhye, Ukraine, “Rainbow” from Odessa, Ukraine ,“God’s Colors” from Kislovodsk, Ukraine and others set the standard that the less experienced theaters strive toward. A valuable aspect of the festival was the generous sharing of ideas, scripts and other resources among teams.
Classes provided participants with the opportunity to improve their skills in the art of puppetry. These classes were taught by professional puppet theater actors and directors. I taught a seminar on scriptwriting during the festival.
During the festival we saw a variety of performances. The “Magic Lantern” theater from Sevastopol gave an effective presentation that used shadows along with live actors. The “Candle” Theater from Zaporozhye made a very vivid impression with its use of actors and marionettes.
But the undisputed favorite of the competition was the show presented by the theater from Makeeva called “My Enemy” which combined live actors with puppets. They used dramatic effects including a battle scene with very realistic weapons and a cannon that actually fired!
A theater from Kislovodsk simply charmed the audience with its surprise storyline, excellent puppet work, and the way that the personalities of the puppets came through in their voices, dialogue and humor.
I would also like to say a few words about the newer puppet theaters. The team from Samara won first place for its performance, “Believe in Miracles.” This team immediately won over the audience. Puppet theater teams from Dnepropetrovsk, Brovarov, Azov, Belaya Tserkov and Tyumen presented interesting shows that revealed a great amount of effort and artistry.
Thursday, July 10th, 2008
“YOU +” CONFERENCE ATTRACTS 800 CHRISTIAN YOUTH
On May 30, approximately 800 young national Christians gathered in Chisinau, the capital city of Moldova, for “You +”—a special event that was part of a “Time to Live!” rally sponsored by Russian Ministries in the former Soviet Union. About 100 young people from non-Christian backgrounds also participated in the event.
The conference was designed for youth to look at themselves from a positive perspective—no small feat in a country where young people face unemployment, alcohol and drug abuse and even human trafficking. Moldova ranks first in human trafficking in Europe.
However, through the redemptive work of Christ, God has a positive perspective on these young national believers. The conference zeroed in on 2 Peter 1:13, which states that God has blessed His followers with the gift of righteousness, and in Him they are strong. Young people are already a “plus” in God’s eyes, in church and in society.
This theme was emphasized by local Pastors Peter Litnevsky and Viktor Myrza, who are passionate about reaching out to youth, along with Michael Cherenkov, vice-president of Russian Ministries’ in-country affiliate, the Association of Spiritual Renewal. (Cherenkov traveled from Kiev, Ukraine to attend the event.)
Three local churches in Chisinau participated in the conference, with the support of 15 other local congregations. The three main churches were Agape Church, Light to the World, and the Veritas church—a church “without walls.” The Association for Spiritual Renewal/Russian Ministries initiated and funded this rally that motivated and mobilized the Next Generation to be proactive in their Christian walk and witness.
Along with the seminars, “You +” also featured Sergei Briksa, a popular musician and the band “Sons of Day,” from the U.S. They filled the meeting with music and their positive attitudes toward their faith. The musicians also talked about their return to Jesus after a period of meaningless wanderings. They are now using their talents in evangelizing this young generation.
About 20 students from Chisinau’s School Without Walls volunteered at the meeting, and passed out fliers, greeted and seated participants, maintained order in the facility, and put into practice some of the training they received in the classroom.
Near the end of the conference, participants were challenged to renew their commitment for ministry. A sea of hands went up in the packed community center as an affirmation that God is at work, and that “YOU+” is in fact God working through them.
“Each time I see young people who are being inspired for the ministry and rejoicing in Jesus, I realize that all of our efforts were not in vain. It’s worth the risk to give ourselves for their sake, for the sake of the Kingdom in their hearts, and for the One who saved us all,” declared Vladimir Ubeyvolk, director of Russian Ministries’ ministry center in Moldova.
Many young people came that night with intention only to listen to the music and left with their hearts changed for deeper commitment and ready to spread His Kingdom. As the young people left the conference, hundreds of excited voices echoed, “You are a plus.” And indeed this Next Generation is a plus to God, their churches and society—a positive force poised to bring Jesus to their generation.
Conference organizers were pleased to see a group of 20 teenagers from an orphanage at the event. Afterwards, they connected with Christian youth, and asked all s orts of questins about the issues the “You +” conference addressed.
Here are some comments from participants.
“Thank you very much for setting up the festival. These days we hear so much about what we should do, and so little about who we are.”—Inna
“We had a blast! Briksa and our pastors explored and showed to us the other side of our minds—the positive one.”—Sergei
“Before this event I just couldn’t visualize how people from various denominations could simply be together, vibrantly rejoicing in God, and not blaming one another.”—Pavel
“I was pleasantly surprised that no one at the meeting attempted to advertise their own church, instead the organizers would encourage us to stick to our churches and inspired us to live out a ‘plus’ lifestyle.”—Anya
Tuesday, April 8th, 2008
The recent NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania, in some ways echoes the Cold War period, when political tensions between the West and Russia reached a fevered pitch. Even today the world’s attention remains focused on the former Soviet Union—often with more questions than answers about international policies and strategies.
Now more than ever the evangelical church in Russia, Ukraine and the other former Soviet Union countries needs to be well-prepared and equipped for the future, and led by a new generation of strong leaders. This is a generation of young leaders who, despite the changing political landscape, is able to confront and challenge society, and avoid slipping into survival mode as the church did when it was severely persecuted under communism.
Today, the church and these young Christian leaders are an effective missionary force as they confront the social and spiritual problems in their communities. They not only proclaim the hope of the gospel, but also deal with issues such as poverty, alcoholism, street children, broken families and the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Russian Ministries is committed to the effective ministry strategy of equipping and training the Next Generation of church and ministry leaders today for tomorrow’s victory over sin and despair.
And even as Ukraine’s bid for NATO membership has stalled, young Next Generation Christian leaders in Ukraine move ahead at full speed in their ministries.
• Last month, enthusiastic young national leaders from the various countries of the former Soviet Union gathered at the new national ministry training center just outside of Kiev to sharpen their ministry skills and investigate new ministry opportunities. Russian Ministries’ Senior Vice-President Sergey Rakhuba played a strategic role at these sessions.
• As the rate of HIV/AIDS infections steadily rises in Ukraine, public schools in Belaya Tserkov have been open to young Next Generation Christians presenting programs that promote healthy lifestyles, which are based on biblical principles.
• With Russian Easter celebrated on April 27 this year, churches across Ukraine—as well as Russia, Belarus and Moldova—are planning a variety of evangelistic services to share the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection. For example, in Cherkassy, special youth services are planned as well as Easter programs in various orphanages.
• As summer approaches, hundreds of School Without Walls students along with other young Christian leaders are inviting children and teenagers to participate in Russian Ministries’ evangelistic summer camps across Ukraine.
To read more about NATO’s expansion in the former Soviet Union, click NATO expansion.