With the theme of ‘A Time to Live – A Time to Serve’, 520 + participants from the U.S., Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and even India, gathered June 17-20 in Irpen, Ukraine for this historic event.
“I had a chance to be part of this wonderful festival that Russian Ministries/ Association for Spiritual Renewal hosted for young graduates and students of our School Without Walls program,” said Russian Ministries’ Senior Vice President Sergey Rakhuba.
He added: “Participants came from 12 countries, including some from the US and India, to spend four days together to celebrate God’s faithfulness, plan for new ministry projects and to analyze the reality that all of them are working in today in advancing the Gospel, in the fast changing political landscape and economies where they are reaching out.”
During the festival 27 excellent national speakers challenged these young Christian leaders to be more pro-active, more progressive and more effective in terms of their outreach in their communities on behalf of their churches. Each day also centred round different themes from praise to discovery and then commitment.
Rakhuba says School Without Walls leaders, who’d travelled from very difficult circumstances in places like Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan at the height of violence and tension between the two nations, displayed an amazing unity of purpose: “The young people were united around the same idea with one voice. They were so determined that despite of any challenges we have to continue pushing.”
On one of the days of the festival participants looked at the theme of discovery, including discovery of their relationships with God, of fruitful and strategic ministry and discovery of God’s fullness.
Organisers were overwhelmed on the second day when half of those in attendance responded to the challenge to sign up to short term ministry trips in remote places such as Arctic Siberia, villages on the Mongolian borders and war torn Northern Caucasus to bring the Gospel there.
“Also on the final day of dedication it was exciting to see many of them come forward and kneel down on the ground re-dedicating their lives and committing their talents, committing their resources, committing their young families. So it was so exciting to see that despite pressures we see in Russia or Ukraine or in Northern Caucasus or Central Asia, these young people dedicate their lives to continue leading and expanding God’s kingdom in their communities and beyond, bridging their churches with current realities in contemporary society,” said Rakhuba.
Rakhuba concluded by saying that despite so many challenges facing these young leaders, he’s very optimistic that their School Without Walls program will continue to bear much fruit: “You hear a lot about apathy and depression in the evangelical movement because the predominant Orthodox Church is monopolising Russian territory and moving into other areas and trying to limit evangelical movement. Also the current economy isn’t in favour of mission growth.
“You hear all about this war going on in Northern Caucasus or Central Asia or persecution in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, but at the same time when you see all these young people together, they’re all united by one great purpose and idea, eager and committed to continue expanding God’s kingdom.
“This School Without Walls program is expanding so quickly and already becoming a significant movement and we see a lot more fruit to come. I want to thank all our supporters and partners for all their contribution. I also want to give a tribute to all our multiple ministry partners and generous supporters for their faithful partnership in expanding God’s kingdom through out my still needy and troubled homeland. Through this strategic and successful program we can enable the evangelical church in the former USSR to raise the next generation of ministry leaders that will lead the church into the glorious future.”
For more details go to: www.russian-ministries.org
Peter Wooding, Assist News Service