In Armenia, despite losing three churches due to doctrinal and managerial issues, there is a foundation that is strengthening and in harmony for the first time in several years. Despite economic depression and major emigration out of Armenia (8% of total population left the country last year) including one of our key pastors and his family to the West, the Spirit of God is moving among a wonderful group of praising people.
The move of Rev. Trino Jara to Armenia has been a positive and timely move. Trino has assumed the interim position of district superintendent of Armenia district. His new wife, Anna, is an incredible help to him and the mission as they also juggle child sponsorship and compassionate ministry for the Eurasia region.
Another exciting compassionate ministry opportunity is the grant from Food Resource Bank. This grant provides money for selected church and community members to raise sheep or chickens to sell for economic development and also to support those in need.
During district assembly, three churches reported, with one district pastor’s license being renewed.
On the Ukraine district, last year's appointment of a national district assembly, Rev. Vladimir “Vova” Masyuk, has been a major step forward. Together with his wife Sylvia, they are providing wisdom, leadership, and spiritual council that are greatly needed. New small group meetings are being established in several locations. Our newest church plant has outgrown their meeting place, and leadership development seminars, utilizing Kingfisher, have been conducted for several key churches.
A strong women's ministry is also being established. Multiple holiness seminars, Bible studies, and classes that teach a craft or trade for women are being offered.
Drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers continue to operate in six locations. These centers continue to have success in freeing men and women from addiction, while new ideas are being implemented that will one day make them self-supporting.
Kiev First Church is in the final stage of relocating to a new facility. This should result in a variety of new ministry possibilities including a new church plant.
At the recent district assembly, nineteen churches reported. Six district pastor’s licenses were given, with four pastors receiving these licenses for the first time. Another special event at the assembly was the honoring of Rev. Svetlana Kleshchar for 17 years as the director of the Foundation Nazaryanina.
In Moldova, the first national missionaries sent to pioneer a new work, Rev. Sergey and Irina Talalay, have completed their second year of ministry. As in Armenia, economic depression and massive emigration characterize Moldova. While these factors challenge church stability and sustainability, a church and ministries have been established. Sergey and Irina are a talented, compassionate team. God is blessing their ministry, and just two months ago, blessed them with their first child, a son, Nazar.
One example of the exciting things happening in Moldova was a fall 2012, family retreat, which brought children from Kids Club together with their parents. This provided a first step for fellowship and an introduction to the church and the Gospel, which proved to be very effective.
In a recent meeting, the Talalays, the Ukraine DAB, and other leaders established aggressive, measurable goals for Moldova.
Russia North District
On the Russia North district, under the leadership of district superintendent Rev. Davide Cantarella, relationships between churches are much improved.
Moscow First Church has used a beauty salon as a means of tremendous outreach and ministry. This salon rents space from the church, has converted it into a salon, and along with providing income for the owners, offers several free services (i.e. haircuts) a month to needy people in the church. Business is good; now the operator is seeking a second location! The theory; open a salon, and start a church.
Ministry in St Petersburg is also growing. The core group is made up of young couples and families. Presently, St. Petersburg church is awaiting five new babies to be added to the church family – one of which is Rev. Pavel Kupchyk’s soon-to-be-born little girl!
Ministries to those with special needs (disabled and deaf) continue to be a major focus of the Russia North district. Also, this district is currently planning a summer youth camp for Russia North, as well as an NYI camp for the youth leader in the CIS
At district assembly, six churches reported and six renewals of district pastor’s licenses were given.
Russia South District
Russia South district is led by district superintendent Rev. Sergey Archikov. Many great things are happening on this district. Several new small groups have been established. One new church was organized, reporting 30-plus in average attendance. The development of a key national leader, Rev. Yuri Ananyev, has been, and will continue to be, critical to the Nazarene Church's development on the CIS field, and in Russia particularly. Under his leadership, PO1 (Power of One) initiatives have been conducted in two locations, which have launched new ministries. Young new leaders are being discipled.
Eight churches reported, and ten district pastor’s licenses, two of which were new, were given at the recent district assembly. One of those district licenses went to Rev. Vladimir Kovalev. At the conclusion of the assembly, pastors and leaders laid hands on him and prayed over him, as he was being sent to a new area on the district. Already a group has been assembled under his leadership for Bible study in Surovikino, three hours from Volgograd.
Central Asia is another incredible story being written! Despite new laws that have resulted in church closures and mergers, churches and leaders are not discouraged.
Attendees for district assembly gathered behind locked doors and gates, and posted a watchman. Despite the reminders of danger in the locked doors, reports were inspiring. The pastors and leaders were so excited to be together for worship and fellowship. Despite governmental pressure and persecution, a record eleven first-time local pastor’s licenses were issued this year. Seven churches reported, and five district pastor’s licenses were given.
One pastor reported their church could no longer assemble because they could not register. Consequently, they joined four other evangelical churches for praise and worship. It has been a blessing. There is a lot of common ground to be found in Jesus.
In one church on this district, the church members meet every day, as they have done for seven years, at 7 AM for prayer. These people know from Whom their power comes!
In the most difficult area of Central Asia, seven new Bible studies are underway. One leader reported the Koran is being used as a springboard for Bible study! The Koran states a person would be wise to read the Torah, Psalms, and the Gospels.
Many of the Nazarene leaders in Central Asia have been saved out of Islam. Stories of persecution and mounting pressure are common. One layman was recently beaten when he proclaimed his faith in Jesus. He felt blessed.
In parts of our Central Asia district Christian literature is very limited. However, a new book, Developing a Missional Church, the Jesus Way, has been translated and is now being distributed.
Thank you again for partnering with us through prayer and support of these areas. It is so exciting to see what God is doing in the CIS, and each of you is a major part of that work!