Christians in Russia/USA help each other

By April 5, 2006

Russia (MNN) — As the Russian government continues to put pressure on foreign non-government organizations, Slavic Gospel Association continues helping the national church. One of their programs is called the “Antioch Initiative.”

SGA’s Kyler Welch is heading to Russia today. “The Antioch Initiative is a strategy straight out of the book of Acts. Where we see what Paul and Barnabas did through the Antioch church. They set up a church that was based on evangelism, training leaders and sending them out and so this is the model we’re trying to duplicate all across Russia.”

According to Welch, the way they do that is through working church partnerships. “We’re looking for partnership between groups of American churches. Their mission is going in and help train and send the pastors to plant churches more effectively and more quickly, to spread the Gospel more quickly across Russia.”

Their goal is to see a Bible-preaching church accessible to all of the 100,000 communities of Russia.

Welch says even though the program is new, it’s having an impact. “They’re saying, ‘our preaching has dramatically improved after even just the first two or three classes.’ Typically each session has 15 to 40 men who are coming for a week of solid training and they’re already seeing that impacting their pulpits.”

However, the interaction is bilateral, says Welch. “The American church is really strong in discipleship, but the Russian church is much stronger in evangelism and so we’re sort of mutually encouraging each other.”

The biggest concern is the Russian government curbing foreign workers. Welch says, “That’s definitely a legitimate concern. I think that’s probably why our focus right now is on training because if we’re never allowed to go back we’d like to train the pastors there so that they are stronger than when we came and they can continue the training on their own without us.”

Welch is in Russia looking at three new potential Antioch sites. Pray that these new programs will be developed and supporting churches will come alongside and help them.

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