A World-wide Update
“The spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions. The nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we become.” ― Henry Martyn
As I write, Susie and I are enjoying a week at home between our ministries in Ukraine and Egypt. (That sounds like a real-life illustration of the idiom, “Out of the frying pan and into the fire!”) We were joined in Ukraine by Andrew Rogers (Pastor of Soul Care, College Park Church, Indianapolis) who taught Biblical Counseling and Theology, the final course in our Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling through Kyiv Theological Seminary for Overseas Instruction in Counseling.
What’s Really Happening in Ukraine?
In answer to that question in my previous BCC blog concerning Biblical Counseling Training in the Middle East (14 Oct. 2013), I wrote:
I don’t really know – and I don’t think very many Americans actually understand the complexity of the regional conflicts and political tensions in that area of the world. What little we do know is this: Evil men are killing other evil men (and innocent civilians) to accomplish an evil agenda. This is human depravity on display for all the world to see!
Fast forward from last Fall in Egypt to this Spring in Ukraine and the same observation is true. And whatever I share here will almost certainly be hopelessly out-of-date by the time this is published because of the speed at which events in that region are unfolding.
It would be irresponsible and inaccurate to portray the recent revolution in Ukraine as merely a West v. East issue. While geopolitical considerations may be involved, what we witnessed while in Kyiv last week had more to do with the corruption and lawlessness of government officials. The outcome of the uprising and the future of the nation are still uncertain. A good summary is available here. And some good, more recent news, is available here. The role of some evangelical believers in the events on Maidan is detailed here.
But our experience in Ukraine has been a delight! The students in our MABC program at KTS are mostly from Ukraine, of course, but God has given us pastors/students from Moldova, Belarus, and Russia. Joyfully anticipating graduation in May, our students have already initiated the creation of a national association for the continuing training and (contextualized) certification of biblical counselors all around this troubled nation. Good timing, huh?
What’s Really Happening in Russia?
Again, I don’t really know. That statement is more than an admission of ignorance concerning the behind-the-scenes events taking place in the Kremlin. It’s a confession of a less-than-adequate understanding of all the historical and cultural elements that are driving today’s news headlines. It is obvious that a renewed nationalistic fervor, buoyed by significant economic power and recent world attention (the Sochi Olympics), has emboldened Russia’s leader to feel confident in taking provocative actions.
Our focus, of course, is on the believers in Russia, our students. These are wonderful men and women of God who have a passion for learning and doing biblical soul care. Our Lord has allowed us to conduct modular biblical counseling training programs in partnership with the Moscow Theological Seminary (which is under the auspices of the Baptist Union) in four locations so far—Moscow, Krasnoyarsk (Siberia), St. Petersburg, and Kemerovo (Siberia). In total, we’ve been able to train nearly 200 pastors and other Christian leaders in these disparate places around the Russian Federation.
How is Biblical Counseling Training Received and Implemented in These Nations?
Believers are not like other people!
While the politicians and diplomats extol the virtues of their nationalism and ethnocentricity, the Christians with which we work demonstrate a humility and teachableness—even though the instructors are Americans—that is refreshing. Generally less “psychologized” than Christians in West, these friends are eager to return to a biblically (rather than merely culturally)-generated soul care ministry strategy.
One of our students in Ukraine is already conducting biblical counseling training programs in many places around the country. Some of our graduates in Russia are discussing the creation of a national organization for the (contextualized) certification of biblical soul care providers in that nation.
In short, biblical counseling training is received with enthusiasm and gratefulness in Ukraine and Russia.
What Does the Future Hold?
Our continuing ministry in Ukraine—a second cohort of MABC students scheduled to begin their three year program in September, 2014—is at the mercy of the actions and reactions of the political leaders in Moscow and Kyiv. We’re planning to move forward, and praying.
Since we first went to Russia in 2008 it has become increasingly difficult and expensive to enter this nation. The visa application process is complex and the prices have risen exponentially. Although there are many opportunities for ministry in Russia, these realities limit our access, something we believe is purposeful.
While we wait for the day of Christ’s return, we are more excited than ever to serve our Slavic brothers and sisters by providing training in biblical sufficiency-based personal ministry training in a variety of locations
Join the Conversation
How are you or your church praying for and/or assisting believers in the Slavic World?