Asia (MNN) — Some of the coldest places in the world are in the northern-flung Slavic nations. For example, Oymyakon, Russia endures winter temperatures hovering around -58 degrees Fahrenheit. With a population of 500, it is considered the coldest inhabited town on the planet.
“We were there visiting and talking about ministry and it was snowing,” Mock says. “In fact, a group of men that had traveled with me were shocked because…it was still late September in the US and the temperatures had not really turned that cold, yet it was snowing in Yakutia.
“When we support the churches there through Bible teaching and through compassion ministry, it drops off into 60 degrees below zero. It’s an incredible cold.”
In these environments, heat is a matter of life or death. Even leaving home to get food can be difficult.
That’s why SGA has a crucial outreach called Operation Winter Warmth. SGA equips their church partners in several countries to share the Gospel, along with distributions of warm clothes, fuel, heaters, and food.
Another country SGA serves is Ukraine. The Donbass region in the eastern part of the country is still a volatile stage for the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Mock says, “There are people that remain in that region caught up in the crossfire that are living in homes where even the windows have been blown out. They have blankets up on the windows trying to stay warm. With cold setting in, it’s a fearful time — especially for the elderly or the young kids. Keeping them warm is very difficult.”
Last winter, Mock was in Ukraine distributing aid alongside SGA’s church partners for Operation Winter Warmth.
“Even in the midst of that, standing in the snow about to provide aid to them, they wanted to hear the Gospel first and get the food second.”
Mock reflects, “I remember one man in the crowd turning to me and saying, ‘The government is not providing aid. Their own people are not providing aid. But the local church here, they are providing aid. We want to hear from you. We want to hear what you have to say because we see that you care about us.’”
With the shroud of winter bearing down, SGA is gearing up to meet more needs with Operation Winter Warmth. But they can’t do it alone.
A gift of $35 provides heat to someone in need through SGA. Donating just $70 covers heat, food, and warm clothes.
Mock emphasizes the heart of Operation Winter Warmth isn’t just to meet tangible needs, but to see whole lives changed as people discover joy in Christ.
“If it was just for the sake of blankets and heaters, I really would think that we ought not to be a part of it because we really have not restored their lives. The Gospel is central. So the compassion ministry becomes the action we take and the bridge-building that is conducted to convey the Gospel so that their lives will be transformed.”
Mock also asks, “Secondly — and actually this is probably a higher priority — is pray. Pray that God would be glorified in His Church as they reach out to people in need, that their lives would be restored for the glory of God, that in the midst of their suffering, they would find hope, peace, and joy.”
Header photo courtesy of Slavic Gospel Association.