USA (MNN/SGA) — A ministry reaching out to the former Soviet Union is celebrating a milestone. President Dr. Robert Provost along with the staff of Slavic Gospel Association and Dr. Piotr Konovalchik (former president of the Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists of Russia) are marking the 75th anniversary of the mission's founding in Chicago.
According to Dr. Provost, this ministry milestone will be celebrated throughout 2009 through a series of publications and special events across North America. These include a major International 75th Anniversary Conference scheduled for September in Chicago, as well as 75th Anniversary Weekend Rallies being hosted by partner churches across North America.
On January 6, 1934, a young immigrant from Belarus named Peter Deyneka, along with noted pastor Dr. Paul Rood and a group of Christian businessmen, founded what was then known as the Russian Gospel Association in the back room of Hedstrom's Shoe Store in Chicago.
Peter Deyneka, a powerful preacher known as Peter Dynamite, had a deep passion to win the people of his homeland to Christ. This passion grew deeper as atheistic communism strengthened its grip on Russia and her neighboring countries in the Soviet Union. But Peter traveled the free world developing a vast multi-national prayer movement, and he became known for his motto, "Much prayer, Much power." And the Soviet Union's leaders could not stop our Lord Jesus Christ from building His Church throughout their republics.
Dr. Provost said that SGA continues to serve faithful evangelical churches, both here and in the former Soviet Union. He added that much has been accomplished for the glory of Christ over seven decades. "For 75 years, the Lord has been gloriously answering prayers and accomplishing 'great and mighty things' as promised in Jeremiah 33:3 — our founder's favorite Bible verse.
"Through the prayers and support of our faithful partners, when the churches of the USSR were closed, untold millions of Russian-speaking people secretly listened to SGA's Russian-language Gospel messages. Millions of Russian-language Bibles and important Christian books were discreetly distributed to persecuted believers across the lands of Russia. Thousands of Russian pastors have received Bible training through SGA's Seminary of the Air, the SGA-sponsored seminaries and Bible institutes, and Antioch Initiative training sessions. And our mission's faithful partners have sponsored hundreds of church-planting missionaries resulting in more than 2,000 new local churches being organized. It is truly a tremendous legacy upon on which to build, and build we must, as there are still tens of millions of souls across Russia who have yet to hear of the salvation that comes only through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ."
Rev. Yuri Sipko, president of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists (UECB), congratulated SGA on reaching this important milestone. "Our partnership with SGA and Dr. Provost has brought special blessings. They organized dozens of missionary and pastoral schools, and our churches have become strong through them. We began to send more and more people to the mission field, and your support for church planters has helped us plant 1,000 new congregations in Russia alone. It is impossible to enumerate all things. We thank you and congratulate SGA on its 75th anniversary."
In addition to SGA's home office in the United States, founder Peter Deyneka also established related but autonomous SGA ministries in Canada, New Zealand, England and Australia.
Ruth Deyneka Erdel, the eldest daughter of founder Peter Deyneka, expressed her thankfulness for all that God has done. "Today I realize that I grew up with SGA. What a testimony it was for me to see my father always moving forward and to feel his excitement of seeing the work of the Lord expanding. The greatest memory I have is hearing my father say 'Much prayer, much power,' and then seeing him live by the power of prayer as he committed SGA and its ministries into God's hands. Just as SGA was born through prayer in 1934, may we meet the new challenges as we continue to take the Gospel to the corners of the world through prayer!"
SGA is an interdenominational mission which has been working in the former Soviet Union since 1934. It has served churches in Russia through pastor and lay leader training, sponsorship of national church planters and provision of Christian literature.
SGA is the official representative of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists and is a sponsor of the Eurasian Federation of Evangelical Christians-Baptists.