We remain passionate about equipping believers in Eurasia with good Christian literature tools to enhance the effectiveness of their ministry of evangelism and helping others grow in their faith. The need for Bible-based literature is critical in sustaining and maturing the Body of Christ.
CHURCH LIBRARIES & TRAINING PROGRAM - From her home in Belarus, one of the most repressive regimes in Europe, Lyudmila's growing hunger to minister to her community motivated her to make a bold move. In the face of increasing persecution of evangelicals in her country, Lyudmila opted to travel to Ukraine to attend the READ-sponsored training program. She faced a tedious 24-hour train ride each way, each time she traveled. On the return trips, she carried stacks of books for her church library. Dreading the searches at border crossings, she knew discovery of Christian literature in her bags could result in seizure of the books or worse. Yet her commitment to Christ emboldened her. Lyudmila now heads a thriving library ministry in her home church - one designed to reach out to her community.
PASTORS' AND CHURCH LEADERS TRAINING - Why we do this is best expressed by the following story: A number of years ago, READ’s field representative, visited an unpretentious church filled with broken people in Bryanka, Ukraine. Led by Pastor Oleg, it was a struggling church plant housed in an old, decaying Soviet-style building formerly known, ironically, as the House of Culture. True, it didn’t smell very good, and a picture of Lenin still prominently graced the entrance. But in a city known for high rates of unemployment, alcoholism, and drug addiction, this motley congregation opened its doors to hurting people of all types. Able-bodied believers helped the disabled up the front steps, and everyone who came was fed what might have been their only healthy meal of the week. Yet a strong sense of God’s grace pervaded the place as they worshiped in song. God’s Spirit was evident as they shared Communion together. It was exactly the kind of place where the Lord would feel right at home. But last year war came to Bryanka. Today the city is still occupied by Russian-backed troops and tanks. As one of many evangelical church leaders targeted by the aggressors, Pastor Oleg, and his family were forced to flee for their lives. After finding a small apartment in Kyiv to shelter his family, Pastor Oleg opened the door to their apartment to other internally displaced persons (IDPs). They began taking in needy people, and their crowded apartment has become a haven that dispenses the Gospel along with humanitarian aid to others who have had to flee the war zone. As these temporary guests find work and more permanent quarters, they move out to make room for others. It’s a church of a different type. The Church of the Revolving Door, so to speak.
These are challenging times, but it has been exciting to find ourselves faced with a whole new set of opportunities. Kazakhstan is one such wide-open door. Located in the heart of the former Soviet Union, Kazakhstan is one of the more accessible countries in Central Asia. It is free from Soviet oppression and free from the Islamic form of government that has already claimed some of the neighboring countries. Their biggest limitation in terms of spreading the Gospel is a lack of biblically trained indigenous pastors and church-planting missionaries. READ is uniquely prepared to help by supplying needed resources for equipping these leaders. Thanks to advanced technology, READ can work directly with Bible Colleges in Kazakhstan, transferring whole libraries of books electronically. Print-on-Demand technology has greatly increased the prompt and efficient availability of hard-copy books. New believers need Bibles in their own language. Though Russian language Bibles are available, many Central Asians resent being expected to read in Russian, the language of their conquerors.
On our last trip to Kazakhstan, we were encouraged to observe about a hundred youth leaders from all over the country and some of the neighboring countries assemble at a local Bible College for a training seminar to improve their leadership skills. The difference in their appearance was marked. Some were obviously of Chinese ethnicity, some bore the dark, coarse hair and almond-shaped eyes of Tajiks and Uzbeks, and others had fairer skin. As they blended their hearts and voices together in Russian—singing some of the old traditional hymns and some new contemporary songs, the diversity of their ethnic heritage seemed not to matter. Their expressions were both joyful and earnest, and we were heartened by their commitment to ministry.
As the world spins further out of control, and Christians are being persecuted for their faith there is hope! New doors are opening, hearts are still hungry. READ's mission is to help satisfy that hunger!