Mission Issues

Thinking and re-thinking missionary issues

I’m off to Russia again!

Within 24 hours, if everything goes according to plan, I’ll be on my way to Russia again. Since 2001 I’ve had the opportunity, once a year, to visit Samara, a city about 600 miles south-east from Moscow. After the Iron Curtain fell in Russia, many church organisations from various places in the world flocked to this country to preach the gospel. In 1999 God also called a young, unmarried, female science teacher from South Africa to start a Bible School. In 2001, after she visited South Africa, I received an invitation to go to Samara, at that time to assist in training people in evangelism and then, since 2003, to teach on the topics of eschatology as well as the book of Revelations. And now this will be the eighth time that I go to Samara.
Despite Russia being open to religion, Protestant Christians are not always popular. During that first year, while we were busy spending time in the parks (it was during summer), speaking to people about the Christian faith, one old woman made the remark that, when she was a little girl of about five, a soldier ripped a crucifix from her neck, threw it on the ground and stamped on it with his heave boot, telling her that God was dead. For more than seventy years she believed what he had said. Suddenly we appear on the scene telling her that God is not dead! One can understand how difficult it is to believe this.
Many missionaries in Russia are making serious mistakes, being focussed more on their own ideals of rapid church growth rather than being there to serve the people. In many ways mission in Russia is the same as in Africa. It takes a long time for people to really trust the missionary and this trust will have to be deserved, not through money or good sermons, but by the way in which the local people are respected and served.
I will be spending two days in Cairo with some local Christians and then on Saturday I will be flying to Moscow and then to Samara.
For those who diligently follow this blog. I will be posting the next few days. This is the miracle of blogging sites where posts can even be scheduled for the future. Tomorrow I will be posting something on A Multifaceted Gospel and on Thursday I will post something on the “Sinner’s Prayer”. If time allows, I still want to write something on tithing which I will post on Friday. I will hopefully be “on the air” again on Sunday and will probably share something of my experiences in Russia this year.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008 - Posted by | Africa, Building relations, Church, Cross-cultural experiences, Eschatology, Evangelism, Evangelism Explosion, Mission, Russia, Short-term outreaches

8 Comments »

  1. To Cairo and Samara, and the uttermost ends of the Earth! Sounds almost Biblical. I’m interested to hear how that Russian Bible College is doing. The organisation I work for, EFCCM, founded DBI (Dnepro Bible Institute) about 13 years ago in Ukraine that experienced the same phenomenon when the Iron Curtain fell. However it is now facing a shortage of students, and working very hard to maintain momentum. So I’m wondering if this is a regional trend, or something more specific.

    Comment by brad | Wednesday, April 16, 2008 | Reply

  2. In a certain sense I feel that things may also be going in that directions. They have ten students this year (more than last year) but with quite a large administrative team. And I did find myelf wondering today if this was the right thing to do. I’m not really sure. We really prayed this year that God would close the doors for us if we should not go andit did not happen, in spite of a lot of problems between the government and Christian churches. So, we do believe that this was the right thing to do, but I still need to put some more thought into this. What was your experience in the Ukraine?

    Comment by Arnau van Wyngaard | Monday, April 21, 2008 | Reply

  3. DBI has been a success, with several churches around Ukraine now led by DBI grads. But the Ukrainian church isn’t growing fast enough to install all the grads into conventional ministry roles(eg pastoring). We’d have to be starting about 5 congregations a year. In a country that seems to be exhibiting stable or declining interest in faith/spirituality, that’s a stretch to say the least. Keeping the existing churches healthy is consuming all the existing energy.

    Comment by brad | Thursday, April 24, 2008 | Reply

  4. Good point! What about sending them out to Russia as missionaries?

    Comment by Arnau van Wyngaard | Thursday, April 24, 2008 | Reply

  5. Hmmm shouldn’t that be the “Book of Revelation”, singular ?

    Comment by Mike McDonald | Friday, June 20, 2008 | Reply

  6. Oops! Thanks Mike. My mistake.

    Comment by Arnau van Wyngaard | Friday, June 20, 2008 | Reply

  7. Interesting observation. We have gone to Russia several times on short term missions. We always connect with the local church and serve them – thier time and place. We pay our way totally, even the homes we stay in, as many are poor. We go to Perm and Izhevsk, where the churches we know have many ministries and each a Bible School for pastoral training. Funny that people show up to meetings to see an American. God is always amazing and faithful! Blessings to you and your ministry.

    Comment by Loring | Wednesday, July 23, 2008 | Reply

  8. Isn’t Russia an absolutely awesome country?

    Comment by Arnau van Wyngaard | Wednesday, July 23, 2008 | Reply


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