Russian Christians going door-to-door in the bitter cold reached thousands more children and families with the Gospel over the past few months than ever before — largely because of COVID-19.
Illinois-based Slavic Gospel Association’s (SGA, www.sga.org) Christ Over COVID campaign and Immanuel’s Child Christmas outreach helped Russian Christians and their local evangelical churches bring hope to tens of thousands amid the ongoing pandemic — including 25 percent more non-churchgoing children than before COVID-19.
“In God’s providence, COVID is actually opening doors for the Gospel in Russia and the former Soviet Union,” said SGA president Michael Johnson. “At their wit’s end, many people are asking: ‘Is there any hope?’ Then their Christian neighbors show up on the doorstep with food, gifts for the children, Bibles, and the life-transforming message that Jesus loves them.”
In recent months, those local Christians — partnering with SGA — have delivered free groceries supplying a staggering three million meals and distributed Christmas gifts, Bibles and “Jesus Loves You” Star of Bethlehem ornaments to nearly 40,000 children.
Growing up in the shadow of communism, many Russians are skeptical of religion. But, Johnson says, the combination of Christian compassion and the power of the Gospel in action “is melting even the hardest and most frozen of hearts.”
The pandemic has ravaged Russia and the former Soviet Union, causing unemployment and hunger to soar. There are also reports of a new Russian variant of the virus.
Children Hear Gospel For First Time
“The news is very troubling, but the ‘silver lining’ is that Russian churches partnering with SGA were able to reach 25 percent more non-churchgoing children over the past year — children who’ve never been to church or heard the Gospel before,” Johnson said.
Because members of a local church showed they cared about her, 10-year-old Dasha started going to a Bible Club and brought her friends with her. Three of the girls committed their lives to Christ.
Partnering with a vast grassroots network of more than 6,500 local evangelical churches across Russia and the former Soviet Union — covering 11 time zones — SGA and its supporters in the U.S. help thousands of widows, orphans, unwanted children and families in dire need.
“Because we work directly with local churches and local believers, we’re able to get aid quickly to the exact point of need,” Johnson said. “We believe in sharing the Gospel in both word and action — local Christians telling their friends and neighbors what Christ has done for them, and helping to meet urgent practical needs, too.”
“It’s truly amazing how God has used the pandemic to open doors for the Gospel in Russia and other ex-Soviet countries,” said Johnson, “and it’s a wonder how he’s drawing together the hearts of Christians in America and believers in Russia — who’ve never met each other — to fulfill the Great Commission in the Russian-speaking world.”
Hope For Orphans, Unwanted Children
Right now, Johnson said, a top priority is giving hope to Russia’s more than 700,000 orphans and unwanted children.
Through its Orphans Reborn outreach, SGA supports evangelical churches serving more than 160 orphanages as well as impoverished households in Russia and the former Soviet Union, bringing food, supplies, Bible materials, and the hope of the Gospel to 12,000 “forgotten” children.
“In the midst of the global pandemic, local evangelical churches across this vast region are pouring hope and love into these broken-hearted children, showing them they’re deeply loved and wanted by God,” Johnson said.
Founded in 1934, Slavic Gospel Association (SGA, www.sga.org) helps “forgotten” orphans, widows and families in Russia, the former Soviet countries of Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and Russian-speaking immigrants in Israel – caring for their physical needs and sharing the life-transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ. SGA supports an extensive grassroots network of local evangelical missionary pastors and churches in cities and rural villages across this vast region.