Continuing on with summing up our most recent summer in Russia, let me introduce you to Olga. She’s 22 years old, an English teacher and has been mentoring young orphans for more than a year now with YouthReach International. This picture below with Traci’s mother, Sheila, was taken last summer during the first camp Olga ever worked with us at. My how her life has changed since then!
It was at this point in Olga’s life that a mere curiosity about God began to be a pursuit of God instead. As many of you know, our ministry model works in such a way that we invite non-Christians to come and work alongside our Christian mentors testing the claims of Christ lived out while they still wrestle with them between their ears. While I think many things about YouthReach International are unique, this might stand out as most unique. God uses non-Christians to mentor orphans and while they do so those mentors are drawn into relationship with him.
That is exactly what happened to Olga this past year. Sheila mentored Olga long distance towards Christ while Olga mentored young orphan girls in her home city towards purity, awareness of their talents and life skills. As a result of Sheila’s prayers and the Holy Spirit’s work Olga surrendered her life to Christ this summer. On July 17, with her parents and younger sister as well as two YouthReach Mentors present, Olga was baptized into Christ. Two weeks later she took her sister on her first mission trip back to Big Lakes which you read about in our last report (check out http://blog.youthreach.org for that and all other updates). Olga is now talking to her sister about Christ while also inviting her to her to live out his claims of love, service and relationship with orphans in Russia. Amazing isn’t it? I don’t mean our ministry model. I mean the way God calls people to himself. He is truly relentless in his pursuit of his people!
Alvin Conyers is a missionary in Novosibirsk that I’ve heard about for years. We briefly met at a baseball camp (no really) in Siberia last summer. His heart and gifts have him ministering on the most prestigious university campus in Novosibirsk. He teaches there and finds the idea of challenging people’s worldview as a great way to open up doors to deeper conversations. One reason I like Alvin so much, other than he is so genuinely humble, is that he uses an approach I too believe is practical and effective in reaching Russia’s lost today. Some people are under the belief that Russia is somehow “closed” or “not a good investment” these days. I demand to differ. Approaches might grow tired and outdated but people still hunger for the water only the gospel can provide. We see it happen every year in the lives of our mentors (Nikita, Olga, Anya, Olya come to mind immediately) and in the kids we’re working with as too.
Well Alvin recently wrote something in a newsletter that really caught my eye. It’s so convicting that I’ll just cut and paste it and provide no more commentary on it other than to say simply consider who is saying this about Russia’s openness and our need to be committed to working there.
Here’s the quote:
Recently, several of my colleagues and I travelled to Russia for meetings with pastors and religious leaders in that country. I do not believe I am overstating the case when I tell you that I sense a tremendous Christian revival coming to that nation. Even noted atheist Christopher Hitchens acknowledges and laments the resurgence in a belief in Jesus Christ among the Russian people.
The Russian people, exceptionally gifted in thought and athletic prowess, are hungry for the power and coherency of Christ’s Gospel!
Ravi Zacharias authored those words in a newsletter to his ministry partners on July 6, 2011. If you do not know the work of Dr. Zacharias, Google his name.
The words of Galatians 6:9 rang out as I read those words above. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” For the youth of Russia, may we, may the Mentors, may the church, may YouthReach International, may our partners in ministry not become weary. There is a great harvest coming. Of that we can be sure.
Nuff for now. Love you all,
Rob, Traci, Benjamin, Nate Aidan and Anna
Director of Russian Operations
678-935-0220 x103 Direct
1911 Grayson Hwy, Ste 8-344
Grayson, GA 30017