An American President’s resolve helped change hearts

By June 11, 2004

USA (MNN) — Thousands of people joined in saluting and honoring former President Ronald Reagan over the last week. Reagan died Saturday at the age of 93 after battling Alzheimer’s disease for more than 10 years. Many of those honoring Mr. Reagan are mission leaders.

President of OC International Greg Gripentrog says President Reagan policies were directly connected with opening doors for evangelism for OCI across the former Soviet Union. Gripentrog says they started ministering in East Germany when the Berlin Wall came down. Their ministry quickly expanded into Russia, taking over the communist youth camps when communism fell there. “In partnership with some other agencies, we were able to actually take some of the communist camps and we were able to train churches in how to use those structures to preach the Gospel to Russian youth. Every year for the last six or seven years we’ve seen an average of about 15-thousand Russian youth come to faith in Christ through those camps,” says Gripentrog.

30,000 youth camps stretched across the former Soviet Union. While many of these camps were used for evil, many of them are now being used for good.

The ministry opportunities didn’t end there for OCI. Gripentrog says they’ve been able to reach the Islamic republics with the Gospel. He says, “We’ve seen a number of those republics become much more open to the outside world and we’ve been able to work with churches there and some of those countries are becoming increasingly responsive to the Gospel.”

The opportunities for ministry are still great in these areas. Gripentrog tells us that there are areas where they can work, but they simply can’t go. “The only way we can get there is as people provide funds for travel and materials (for) the pastor’s conferences and things like that. And then, we need people who are willing to go, to pay the price needed to see these people that have been cut off from the Gospel for decades now. Now that the door’s open (we need people) to go through and reap the harvest that’s there.”

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