About 200 leaders representing 16 mission organizations from six countries gathered this morning for the historic International Evangelical Missions Forum sponsored by Russian Ministries.
The morning started with greetings from the All-Ukrainian Union of Evangelical Christians Baptists, Bible Society of Ukraine, Feollowship of Independent Churches and Missions in Ukraine, Light in the East Mission and others. Without a break, Alexei Melnichuk, President of Connect International, began talking about the need for Christians to stop fighting over traditional and contemporary churches and evangelism. He says, “Coming to Christ is the most important thing. So, we need to stop focusing on who’s right and who’s wrong and go reach the lost where they live.”
Sergei Golovin, President of the Center for Christian Apologetics in Simferopol, Ukraine says the church saw incredible growth when the Soviet Union fell. “It was like a balloon. It was full of air and about to burst. Then Gorbochov broke the balloon and MANYpeople turned to Christ. Because there were few strong believers, the church grew quickly, but not very deep.”
At that break I was able to interview a number of people about the forum. Already, people are blessed by what’s been discussed.
When the forum continued, they continued to talk about experiences and perspectives on missions in the CIS.
Lunch break at 1:51pm.
After lunch the group split up into two different groups — 1. Social Evangelism and 2. Planting New Churches.
I attended the Social Evangelism small group. Many attended this. Because there were so many, we split up into smaller groups to foster more interaction. Here are the top five social issues based on the discussion in the CIS — HIV/AIDS, drug/alcohol abuse, crime, lack of moral values, and the growing orphan population.
The group talked about how the churches can work together to help reach out to these stigmatized segments of society. However, there were not concrete suggestions or proposals about how the organizations can work together. However, I’m told just talking about working together is a step in the right direction. Pray that the evangelical organizations who attended this session will continue talking about partnerships and begin preparing strategies to address these concerns.
Following these small groups, Russian Ministries dedicated their new ministry center, the site of the forum. Russian Ministries Vice President Sergey says this center will be key for outreach. “This has become a ministry nerve center, not just for Ukraine, but for all the former Soviet Union and even farther. I truly believe that this place will be the place for new initiatives to be developed, new vision will be offered and new strategic ministries will be started.”