Russia (MNN) – MNN's Greg Yoder has been following a team
throughout the Arctic Circle.
He joined a Russian Ministries' expedition team four years
ago, exploring the evangelistic work being done at the end of the world. A pleasant surprise awaited him. He says, "The church where I'm standing right
now, Good News Church, is pastored by Anatoli Merechev. He has done incredible things. When we were here four years ago, it was just
being built, and it's nearly completed now. "
The church ministry center has also been enthusiastically
received in the community and is a springboard for outreach in the Tundra. Says Yoder, "It's basically being operated
24/7, bringing young church leaders into the church, discipling them, helping
them, and then sending them back out. "
It's the home of one more of Russian Ministries' "School Without Walls" programs. There are 35 locations across Russia,
Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova. These
young Next Generation Christians are making the most of the opportunities God
has given them to be equipped and prepared for leadership their churches and
Groups usually meet in churches,
like Good News Church, and students spend two to three days a month taking
practical courses and spending time with experienced faculty.
"School Without Walls" is about investing in the lives of
young Christian leaders in a post-Communist period. These young men and women
are prepared to communicate the Gospel to their peers, bring the hope of Christ
to people affected by HIV/AIDS crisis in Russia and Ukraine or serve in the
churches as Sunday school teachers or club leaders.
The people they're targeting in the
Tundra are the Khanty and the Nentsy people. The group is comprised of 30,000 nomadic
reindeer herders. They move whenever the
land can't support the grazing herds.
That has made them hard to
reach, hard to find and hard to disciple. It's also why the "Schools Without Walls" program is so successful. Yoder explains, "The newly trained
pastors are actually able to go out and share the Gospel with this relatively
unreached people group. In fact, up
until about ten years ago, they'd never heard the Gospel before."
This year, the team initiated "Greatest Gift Exchange – Project
Hope," which entailed bringing a shoebox Christmas to the children of
these people groups. That served as a tool to reach the kids, which
then opened doors to reach the adults.
A four and a half hour snowmobile ride in subzero wind chills reminded
the team of the loneliness and isolation this people group face daily. The project is viewed as a
relationship-building program and built on the growing urgency to reach
their camps with the hope of Christ.
Pray that as this trip wraps up, church leaders like Merechev will
continue to reach those in whom the seed of hope grows.