Stories of Impact

Encountering the Real God in Real Life

encountering-the-real-godMichail and Oksana's neighbors weren't Christians, but they had concerns about their children and the issues they would face growing up in Ukrainian society. So three couples, all in their early thirties, began meeting in Michail and Oksana's apartment in Donetsk to watch Raise Up a Child together.

That's how a conversation about children turned into a weekly parenting brainstorming session, which then turned into a prayer fellowship, which then evolved into an informal forum to study Biblical Portrait of Marriage. Somewhere along the way, another couple joined the group, and the six participants who weren't already Christians prayed to receive Christ and began attending a nearby church.

The Spirit moves in neighborhood apartments as easily as He moves in ministry organizations and churches, sometimes even more freely. And He is living and active in Ukraine and the Commonwealth of Independent States, not only drawing people into a closer relationship with Him but also strengthening them to face the challenges of their culture. Like anywhere else, this part of the world has its share of broken homes and relationships, sexual temptation and pornography, economic hardships and challenging work environments, and the universal stresses of life related to health and parenting and careers. Daily life is rarely easy.

What does that have to do with Bible teaching? Igor from Nikolaev explains that even though he was a faithful, church-attending Christian for nine years after growing up in an atheistic family, he still didn't understand the Bible. It was confusing. But attending Walk Thru the Old Testament revealed the big picture of God's story and his own purpose in life.

With a new understanding of how the Old Testament and the Bible as a whole applies practically to everyday life, Igor became a deacon in his church and now visits families that are sick or in need of encouragement. He is leading a small group in A Walk Thru the Life of Joseph, a discussion guide that emphasizes the themes of perseverance, forgiveness, and making a difference in society. He enjoys sharing his knowledge and unveiling the beauty of scripture for others because he doesn't want them to miss out on its blessings. He wants the Bible to come alive for them as dramatically as it did for him.

Several countries away and only a couple years ago, Makskud believed he would die like a dog. He was homeless, lonely, old, poor, and sick. He walked into a church in Kulyab, Tajikistan, hoping for another helping of bread for another day. He found the bread he was looking for, but he was given more—an invitation to watch a DVD on how God restores broken lives.

Today, Makskud is a Christian who is passionate about God's Word. He looks for people like him—lonely and weak—and tells them about God's love and the meaning of life. Many are afraid to believe, worried that they are betraying the religion of their culture. But seeing God's love in practice is persuasive, and the hearts of many of Makskud's friends have changed. He has encountered grace, and he knows how to share it.

For more than two decades, Walk Thru the Bible has worked to break down cultural walls in this region and to foster interdenominational partnerships that will strengthen churches. It's an enormous area, stretching from western Ukraine to Siberia and the northeastern shores of Asia, and in some of the countries of this region, Christians face substantial persecution or other obstacles to practicing their faith. Biblical courses that emphasize perseverance and faithfulness in trying times are highly valued.

Some challenges are common to all believers everywhere, namely living a countercultural faith in a society with different values and perspectives. That means learning how to forgive, for example, as in the case of Olga, whose husband abandoned her long ago and left her alone with a disabled child. When she found him in a nursing home years later, she wrestled with her options when he asked her to take him back. But she had just been through the discussion guide on Joseph, and she saw a parallel with his betrayal and how he dealt with it. She chose the path of forgiveness and restoration, and her husband eventually accepted Christ.

Andrei's issues were entirely different—he had been unfaithful to his wife and felt justified in his unfaithfulness—but attended an event on Personal Holiness in Times of Temptation and got a new perspective on his actions. He repented and turned back to his wife, now helping other husbands deal with similar situations.

These are the kinds of real-life issues that believers in this part of the world—and really in every culture—are dealing with. Resources like Story Thru the Bible and Crucible have been translated into Russian so small groups, whether formally associated with a church or as informal as the gathering in Michail and Oksana's apartment, can discuss the Bible and its relevance to daily life. DVD courses and workbooks have been taken by missionaries into countries of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan and received by pastors in the north Russian region of Yiakutiya. Across this vast region, Walk Thru the Bible resources are helping churches address these needs and equip Christians with the tools to understand biblical truth and apply it to their lives.

Next Steps

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Also Available

Raise Up A Child
Biblical Portrait of Marriage
Personal Holiness in Times of Temptation
Walk Thru the Old Testament

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