Outreach News -
Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36)
Across Russia and her neighboring countries, cities, towns, and rural villages are teeming with people who are spiritually lost, distressed, and in need of the life-changing Gospel. In addition to the great spiritual emptiness that exists, millions of people, their families, and children face tremendous physical needs. Unemployment and poverty are rampant in many regions, and day-to-day survival is a constant struggle.
The faithful evangelical churches SGA serves strive to follow the example of the Lord Jesus in demonstrating His compassion by word and deed. The support of SGA partners helps missionary pastors reach out to needy families with clothing, footwear, and distribution of staple food items—all the while pointing to the loving provision of our great God and Father. The church of the Lord Jesus . . . working as one to be His hands and feet, reaching out in His compassion.
Not only does SGA-sponsored Compassion Ministry help provide for the physical needs of the poor, distressed, and dispirited, but it also helps open the door for missionary pastors and other church workers to share the life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ. As more and more come to know Him as Savior and Lord, they discover their spiritual shackles broken, their physical needs met, and their lives eternally transformed by His saving power. And then—as part of God’s forever family—they themselves reach out to others to share the Good News of what God has done for them.
28 March 2018
Alexander Gets a Bath... and a 2nd Chance
Beggars sometimes team up with stray animals
- by Mikhail Vladimirov, Russia
It was a very cold day, -40º Centigrade, and I was walking home because my car wouldn’t start in such a frost.
As I went through an underpass, I saw a homeless man begging for change - I couldn’t see his face. I walked on by as I had no money on me and I was in a hurry. The frost wouldn’t allow for a leisurely walk. But about 50 meters down the road I felt a special challenge from God... “Return and help that person.”
He was sitting on a concrete floor with a few dogs around him, who kept him warm. I crouched near to him and asked, “Aren’t you cold? Why are you sitting here?” When he looked up, I saw he was just a young man! The young man looked at me as if I was just a passer-by, with mistrust and indifference. He stated briefly, “Everything is fine. I’m not cold at all. I’ve been doing this for the last six months and feeding the dogs.” I told him God had challenged me to help him, and asked, “What is your special need right now?” He said he needed clothes, food, a bath and some hygiene items – because he was living in a basement with other homeless people. This was how I met Alexander.
Over the next two days I collected all that young man needed and with another brother, went to find my friend in the underpass. Alexander was in his usual place. When he saw us he realised we were not just passers-by. We were able to have a more open conversation with him this time. Alexander told us that he was a graduate orphan from Esaulovo. In fact, he knows Oleg Smal (an Orphans Reborn team member) – our friend and brother in the Lord! For many years Oleg had been visiting that orphanage. Alexander said he had attended Oleg’s Bible lessons but didn’t want to live according to the Word. When he learned that I was from the church, his eyes lit up! He had very good memories of the brothers and sisters that led the Bible lessons at the orphanage.
Alexander, after his bath
Alexander told us that after he graduated from the orphanage he entered college with a state scholarship, so he began a lifestyle of loose and careless living. He didn’t have a care in the world and the snare of worldly living caught him with its wild living, alcohol, bad friends and crime. As a result, Alexander was expelled from college and then sent to prison. However, he only spent a few months in jail because the judge had mercy on him. He was given 2 years parole, which is not over yet. Alexander is only 20 years old, but he has nowhere to go, and that’s how he ended up living in the streets.
I asked him, “Why didn’t you come to the church?” and Alexander replied, “Because I owe 2000 rubles to Oleg and can’t pay him back. I feel ashamed to go there.” “Oleg forgave you the 2000 rubles,” I exclaimed, “and God forgave you even more. Just receive his forgiveness!”
It’s evident that God is giving Alexander another chance, which is wonderful! You can see Alexander realises this opportunity of a new start. For three weeks he attended Sunday services and meetings for graduate-orphans. He’s even been bringing a friend from the basement... Gennady. And then, for the past two weeks, Alexander has been in a Christian rehabilitation centre for people with addictions. I believe that with God’s help he’ll be able to complete the course and obtain happiness and freedom – which the Lord gives to those that seek for His glory.
When he completes his time in rehab, we’re going to help Alexander obtain documents, get a job and find a place to live – as he has lost everything. His friend Gennady, by the way, has continued to attend church services and keep in touch with us. Praise Jesus for both of them! The miracle hasn’t faded because it’s a real miracle!.. We can feed people, give them warmth and teach them, but to change hearts – that is the work of the Lord, which only He can do as Creator of all life on earth. Amen!
21 January 2018
Hostel Evangelism Tajikistan
Feeding the Children in Taboshar Hostel
In the city of Taboshar (Tajikistan) one of our sponsored pastors, Andrei Z*, has been visiting several poor families in the Name of Jesus. The families he visits are living together in an old hostel repaired during the Soviet era. There is no water, no plumbing fixtures of any kind in the building, so they have to bring water from the street using plastic buckets.
Since this ministry in the hostel started, church members have been bringing hot food for the children. They have also been running Bible classes for parents while the youth give lessons to the children. Two women from the hostel have become members of the church, but they struggle with alcoholic, abusive husbands... “We ask you to pray for these families that God would give patience to the sisters, repentance to their husbands and that they will bear Christ’s light in this city,” wrote Pastor Andrei. Ministry continues with visits twice a week.
The church volunteers want to develop an after-school program for the kids..."A need we have is for a special room where we could feed the children. There's hardly any room in the small space in which we now gather. Our team dreams of to building a place where they could spend a whole evening after school with these children - a place where they could have dinner, do homework, play and have a rest while we can engage spiritually with them. Generally, they need what they can't receive from their parents who are drinking alcohol and leading immoral lives. We ask you to pray also for implementation of this dream."
The poor families of the hostel in Taboshar could not find salvation unless somebody shared the truth with them. Pastors like Andrei depend on financial support from other places so they can work full-time in ministry. We appreciate your support and praise the Lord for your prayers and words of encouragement. Please continue to pray with us that we will be able to do even more – as He leads.
(* alias for pastor's protection)
03 December 2017
That None Should Perish
(L) Anya and four siblings at their initial visit
(R) The two sisters at Bible study
(R) The two sisters at Bible study
“Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.” “Sir,” the servant said, “what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.” Then the master told his servant, “Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full...” (Luke 14:21b-23)
The Lord is willing that none should perish, but have everlasting life – even the poor and forgotten of this world. That is why He sent Vadim (see article ‘God Sent You to Us’) to the school in Marienka and subsequently into the homes of needy families. Through the support of caring believers around the world, Pastor Vadim had the funds to purchase and distribute gifts of food and other essentials to families in need. We were blessed to receive photos of the families; and Vadim’s heart-warming account of two young ladies that were ‘compelled’ to come in, that the Master’s ‘house will be full’...
“We were shocked to visit a particular family in which the father often stole food to feed the children and the mother was sick with Multiple Sclerosis. They live very poorly - there was not even a table for the children to do homework. They slept two or three people on one broken bed, and the father had to sleep on the earthen floor; he had no place on the bed.
“The children, upon receiving Christmas gifts, were so happy! As it happened, the day we visited this family was Anya’s (the eldest daughter) birthday. We began to visit them every Sunday. They told us they were reading the Children's Bible we gave them, and praying! The father, Vladimir, seemed to shun us at first and conversation was hard, but we brought him the chair-bed I had in my garage. Vladimir and I assembled it together, and after that a conversation ensued. Vladimir began to listen to our words. We invited the family to come to church and they expressed interest, but so far only the two older girls come. Since coming, they have become more open and have started to smile. They joined the women's group which was exploring the attributes of God. Through the studies, Anya said she wanted to be with such a God, to know Him more, and to trust Him.
“Praise the Lord for His pursuit and plan for this family! Our church prayed for them; we fasted for the health of the mother; we tried supporting them; now we pray for their salvation. Praise the Lord, in one of our services after the sermon, the girls joined their hands, prayed and accepted Christ into their hearts. The church had such great joy! Anya – to this very day - thanks God that on her birthday, the Lord sent us with gifts for her and her brothers and sisters.”
We praise God as we witness his mighty arm reaching out to poor and spiritually blind people all over the former USSR. Thank you, dear supporters, for partnering with us!
31 July 2017
Storms and Rain: Pastor Not Deterred
Providing food for the needy:
an opportunity to demonstrate Christ's love
an opportunity to demonstrate Christ's love
SGA's Eric Mock sent the following report over the weekend from Ukraine, where they spent hours driving through heavy rain to visit missionary pastor Peter Vladechak and his family, and observe his ministry:
"The storms raged all night, and continued through the day. For most, this would be a day to sit inside and stay dry. But for Peter and his wife Luba, it was a great day for ministry. Peter pastors one church and is a missionary pastor/church planter in two more. As if that was not enough, he reaches out every two weeks to 15 impoverished families with food provided through SGA’s Compassion Ministry program.
"We arrived amid torrential rain to be greeted by kids overjoyed at Peter and Luba’s arrival. Most were quite dirty, their homes in shambles, with stories of drunken parents and overwhelming health issues - most all of them suffering and distant from God. Every week, Peter reaches out to broken and hungry families with food and the Gospel. Many of the kids we met are now in Sunday school, some parents are attending church, and are hearing the Gospel. A few have come to faith, and will soon be baptized.
"Peter’s secret approach to ministry? Love. In every home, Peter was holding hands, giving hugs, and exhorting them to seek Christ and find hope. It was a joy to watch Peter work side by side with his beloved Luba. They grew up in this village, and it is here that they have ministered for more than 36 years. He and Luba love Christ, love the people of their community, and sacrifice daily of their time and comfort for the sake of the Gospel."
19 October 2016
"I won it for you!"
Hard Attitudes Soften at Disability Camp
Hard Attitudes Soften at Disability Camp
They enjoyed having fun and being treated as equals
The teaching of the Word of God at a special Pruzhany Summer Bible Camp for disabled children had “a 100% effect on their hearts” according to the staff. Pastor Ohrimouk’s daughter Marina gave some highlights from the “very kind and nice camp” where leaders brightened the lives of the children with colourful, happy themes while teaching them about God and the Bible.
“I’ll tell you about an event that touched the hearts of all the camp staff and day-centre teachers... It happened just after we had lessons about friendship and generosity.
We were having a competition among the children to win lollies that was especially hard for one boy, Vlad, who has problems with his musculoskeletal system. His fingers and feet are so curled that he was stumbling and falling. However he persisted with determination and won the prize!
We all expected him to eat it himself, but instead he took it to his day-centre educator with the words, ‘and I won it for you’. The educator accepted it with tears in his eyes.”
Marina believes this is just one of several examples where Bible lessons created real changes in the children’s attitudes and behaviour. The Bible studies focussed on passing-on God’s great love, because he loves them very much. “These children with special needs like camp for the fun and loving care, but the highest value is being treated as equal – being accepted regardless of their physical or mental defects.”
Each of the children has endured years of ridicule, causing their hearts to become heavy with pain and resentment. “This is why they listened to the Word of God so quietly and attentively” says Marina. “We showed that our majestic, powerful God values all people and hears our prayers. We taught them to pray in the form of a game, building a house of prayer and standing within it with folded hands and eyes closed.”
In fact, prayer was a major part of the camp, she said, and that is what made it so life-changing. Hopefully, the children will continue to seek the Lord and to pray. “Let all the seeds of the Word of God, the love, the interaction and all we have planted, germinate and give fruit!”, says Marina.
May God bless these beautiful children and all those who worked faithfully to give them hope.
05 August 2016
His Name Means Hope
This was a wonderful day in Umed’s life as he testifies to his faith in Jesus Christ
The passage in Scripture about the Lord Jesus helping the disabled man at the pool of Bethesda (John 5) brings to mind the story of Umed from Central Asia. Translated into English his name means ‘hope’, and his story is indeed one of hope and trust in the Lord. Umed was born with a severe deformity that robbed him of the use of his legs and one arm. When he was born, Umed’s parents felt he was broken and cursed, so they abandoned him at an orphanage. This orphanage was terrible and neglect was rampant. In the mid 1990’s, a civil war had wracked his country. But Christians came to visit the orphanage where Umed was living. He heard the Gospel and made an early profession of belief in Christ. When this orphanage was closed, Umed, who was just a teenager, was transferred to a retirement home for the elderly.
It was at this nursing home that Umed met Svetlana, a young woman who had also been “thrown away” as a child. A mullah came and pressured Umed to renounce his faith in Christ and to follow Islam instead. He did, and practiced Islam for eight years. During this time, he married Svetlana and together they lived at this home for people whom the world has mostly forgotten. However, two years ago a recovered drug addict who had become a Christian visited, and he shared the Gospel with Umed and Svetlana. Umed began to cry and told of his shame in renouncing the Lord years earlier. He cried out to the Lord for forgiveness. A year later, Svetlana came to faith in Christ and they both began attending a church.
One Sunday, along with several other believers whose identity cannot be disclosed due to risk of retribution from their families, Umed and Svetlana were baptised. Because Umed could not walk, one of the pastors of the church came to his wheelchair, picked him up, and holding him in his arms walked down into the baptistery. As Umed rose from the water, he shouted with joy and was overwhelmed. His dear wife, with their child standing by, was waiting with a huge smile on her face. When all who were baptised stood together during the service, there was Umed in his wheelchair with his dear wife standing behind him. These two orphan children were now publicly declaring their victory in Jesus. They have been adopted by their heavenly Father. And their faces glowed! There is so much joy in their lives which were filled with rejection, disability and hardship. They now have Jesus Christ.... and for Umed and Svetlana, this is more than enough!