Tensions on the rise between the U.S. and Russia

By January 12, 2017

Russia (MNN) – What does the future hold for U.S.-Russia relations?

Russian President Vladimir Putin (Photo cred: www.kremlin.ru )

President of Russia: Vladimir Putin (Photo cred: www.kremlin.ru )

It all depends on who you talk to.  The Kremlin’s official statement claims that the American sanctions connected to human rights abuses and election interference are “further steps in the artificially created degradation of our relations.”  Nobody wins.

On the U.S. side, Americans are hopping mad about the alleged interference, but the headlines indicate that president-elect Donald Trump is still trying to keep communication channels open.  Yet this issue has U.S.-Russia relations at a post-Cold War low, and also fueled fear of more Russia could meddle in French and German elections this year.  Mistrust seems to be getting things off to a shaky start.

However, Mission Eurasia’s Wally Kulakoff says believers in the U.S. are uniquely resourced when it comes to Great Commission thinking.  When we are unified, good things happen, if history is any indication.  “When Americans prayed for South Korea, South Korea was transformed.  South Korea has become a tremendous country of sending missionaries.  When America prays for China, China experiences a revolution — a hunger for God’s Word that today, we’re still talking about.”

Russia is also in great need of prayer.  The spiritual needs are myriad.  Always ready to suggest some way to get new people involved, Kulakoff says, “I think prayer is a powerful tool.  If I can ask American people to take a map of Russia, and take a dart and throw it at Russia…Russia alone, is the size of the full moon…so, throw a dart, and pray for the city and the people and ask God to plant a church.”  Then come alongside a ministry that’s training the national Church to continue to spread the hope of Christ.

(Photo courtesy Mission Eurasia)

(Photo courtesy Mission Eurasia)

The School Without Walls (SWW) leadership training program is Mission Eurasia’s answer to the hopelessness and Soviet-era secularism that characterizes much of Eurasia’s youth.  This program annually provides 2,500 young leaders in Eurasia and Israel with biblical training, leadership skills, and practical ministry experience.  A new component of SWW is the Next Generation Professional Leaders Initiative (NGPLI), which is designed to train more than 2,000 young professionals annually to impact their peers and professional spheres of influence for Christ.

Does this all really make a difference?  Kulakoff says, “I would encourage the American churches to see that part of the world where the teenagers have hopelessness.  The greatest suicide rate in the world, among teenagers, is Russian teenagers, because of hopelessness.”

(Photo courtesy Mission Eurasia)

(Photo courtesy of Mission Eurasia)

The passionate young Christian leaders trained by SWW are influencing more than 1.6 million people annually for Christ.  Groups of SWW students reach out to refugees, help plant churches, and distribute aid goods and Scripture.  This is the shape of the Church in Russia, regardless of what’s happening in the political realm.  That’s the part of the story Kulakoff wants to tell and re-tell.  “Jesus has come so that we can ask of the Lord that He will take away fear from us; not to fear people, but to love people, to walk in obedience to Him and love Him.”

So, what is his take on the future of bi-lateral relations between the U.S. and Russia?  It’ll take Americans stoking the prayer furnace to allow Russians to do the work.  “When they pray for a country, God seems to step in.  God seems to move.  I would plead with American Christians: let’s pray for Russia.”

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