Ukrainian and Russian Christians challenged to reach Muslims

By March 12, 2007

Ukraine (MNN) — According to some statistics Muslims make
up 15 to 20 percent of the Russian population. In the Ukraine, it's just
four-percent. However, that may be changing and Russian Ministries is prepared.

Russian Ministries Vice President Sergey Rakhuba says Joseph
Stalin forced many Crimean Tatars, who are nominal Muslims, out of Ukraine and
into exile into Siberia and other parts of the former Soviet Union. But, they're
going home. "Today it's estimated there are more than 250,000 Crimean
Tatars are moving back to Crimea and those villages and little towns are
growing rapidly. They're building mosques," says Rakhuba.

Russian Ministries Regional Ministry center in Sevastopol,
Ukraine recently held a conference to encourage the national church to take the
Gospel to Muslim people, especially Crimean Tatars. Rakhuba says, "This is
an opportunity and since they're more secular and nominal Muslims it's easier
to reach out their younger generation and when young Christians are properly
equipped for that there is lots of fruit."

Next Generation Christians have already been building
bridges to their Tatar neighbors. Through evangelistic summer day camps in
rural villages, Sunday school ministries and special events, these young
Christian leaders are reaching out to Muslim families.

Fear is the difficult obstacle for believers reaching into
the Muslim culture. Rakhuba says some Muslims in the Northern Caucuses are
radical. "In the Northern Caucuses we have to be very careful because it's
very dangerous for our people, for our missionaries."

Radical Muslims have bombed subways in Moscow and a school
in Beslan, attacked a police stations, and assassinated key Russian leaders.

Rakhuba believes the Tatars are far less radical and may be
the key to reaching deeper into the Muslim culture in Central Asia.

Through the ministry center and other training programs such
as "School Without Walls," some young Crimean Tatar believers have
the opportunity to become better equipped for reaching their own people for
Christ.

Rakhuba says the training in Sevestopol needs partners,
"to support this training seminar for how to equip young people who are
reaching out to the Tatar population."

The training is working, says Rakhuba. "We have several
young Tatar believers already. We are so excited that training young people we
can reach out to this Tatar and Muslim population."

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