The Realities of Planting Churches in Impoverished Parts of the World
Reflection Presbyterian Church, Dmitrov (Moscow Region), Russia, pastored by Evgeniy Kruzhkov and Yuri Levchenko
This is Part 2 of a 4-part series to catch you up on the fast paced developments in Russia and beyond.
Part 1: Raid in Siberia
Part 2: Despite Serious Illness, Joy in the Far East Part 3: The Realities of Planting Churches in Impoverished Parts of the World
Part 4: Property Needed for the Continuation of the Gospel Ministry in Russia
Blake Purcell writes...
In the past week I have shared with you the hard news that one of our SRS empowered churches was raided by 40 armed federal agents in Russia. I also passed on to you the wonderful news that the $60,000.00 given by our American donors has already paid for the building of a church facility in the Far East, which in turn has helped significantly grow the men's morning bible study in that church, despite the recent spread of TB among its members.
Today I want to refer to the raid on Pastor Nik's church, and the sad reality of Pastor Ruslan's whole family coming down with tuberculosis to illustrate how vulnerable the Evangelical Church in Russia really is.
Ruslan had to pay the hospital in Vladivostok $750.00 to acquire the instrument used for Anton's laparoscopic surgery. Without American Christians' support of Ruslan, that purchase, and the church building, would both have been impossible.
Regrettably, however, having lived and/or ministered in the Russian speaking world since 1989, I can say I have not yet seen one Evangelical church there begin to grow and thrive without very significant, decades long, outside support, normally from believers in the USA.
At the same time, the Bible requires us to be good stewards and to expect those who receive outside support to become financially self-sustaining as soon as possible. We therefore require that all SRS sponsored churches maintain a church membership roll, and that all members be taught to tithe, to give 10% of their income to the church, as per Malachi 3:10:
Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.
This expectation has allowed our SRS-sponsored churches to begin paying their pastors, paying for deeds of mercy, and paying for some missional work in the Muslim parts of Eurasia.
Though we have 13 churches whose pastors we have trained or are training in our movement, at the core of our movement are 5 church planters who comprise the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Eurasia: Riga, in Latvia; Dimitrov, Moscow Region; Kazan, Volga Region, and Kavalerovo and Romanovka, Far East Region, all in Russia. They are some of the most thoroughly discipled, mentored, fully proven and equipped godly church planters that we know of among the overall 285 million Russian-speaking people.
The five churches which make up the
Reformed Presbyterian Church of Eurasia (CLICK HERE to view full size)
Since they began to be supported by SRS 5 years ago, they have needed $250 per family member per month to remain above the poverty level. Except for Ruslan in Romanovka, who providentially has succeeded in raising the necessary American support to maintain his family and congregation in a viable position, they have been receiving on average about $100 per family member per month. With this small level of support, they cannot focus on the ministry nor rent a public facility for worship.
In a very real way, they have been on survival rations only, and not able actually to plant churches. Part-time work in Russia is so low paying, it is not worth doing. For them to get above the poverty level either someone from outside Russia needs to triple their support, or they need to give up church planting and get full time jobs for 60 hours a week to support their families.
The board of SRS believes that it is time to get the remaining four of our five main partnering pastors off financial "life support" and effectively into a situation in which they can actually plant a church.
To that end, the board has been revising its plans, expanding its donor solicitation list and working hard to make churches and individual donors more aware of the great gospel opportunity among the Russian speaking people as well as the great need for support.
This renewed effort has begun to achieve improved results, and the board is continuing its campaign to reach, by October 31, the desired donation level to viably support the existing congregations, and by December 31, to reach a contribution level capable of expanding the overall SRS training and church planting ministry to the very receptive 280 million Russian-speaking people.
14 [B]ut that as a matter of equality your abundance at the present time should supply their want, so that their abundance may supply your want, that there may be equality. 15 As it is written, “He who gathered much had nothing over, and he who gathered little had no lack.”
II Corinthians 8:14,15
I want to use the raid on Nik's church, and Anton’s illness to ask you to consider applying II Corinthians 8 to the broader situation we are facing now with SRS.
Consider taking a real step toward making yourself and your church as poor as the Russians are, "that there may be equality" (vs 14). The Holy Spirit through Paul makes this normative in the Kingdom of God.
We have 4 wonderfully faithful and sacrificial church planters: Pastors Evgeni, Timur, Yuri and Kirill, who are living well below the official Russian poverty line. Consider raiding your personal and church savings to help them rise above the poverty line.
Left: Pastor Kiril in Kavalerovo. Right: Pastor Timur and his family in Latvia.
Each one of these 4 church planters needs an additional $1,500/month in support to live and to have a place of public worship.
Without this support they cannot meet in a public place of worship, nor provide for their families. Home churches are illegal in Russia. All healthy and growing Evangelical churches in Russia that we know of depend on significant financial help from outside of Russia.
In any case, for the next calendar year...
To meet the needs of the SRS church planters we need to see $1,500 X 4 come in every month. Or $6,000/month total.
This will be possible if 30 churches or individual begin giving $200/month or more to these 4 pastors.
If you would like to give to the church planters, click here and select either Timur, Kiril, Evgeni, or Yuri.
And please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 682.333.2854 if you have any questions or have made a commitment to give to these needs. We will keep you posted on how this new funding effort is going and on Anton’s condition and Nikolai’s situation.
Be trusting God for a great thing, that by October 31, 2016, in 10 weeks, these new commitments will come in!
10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will
supply and multiply your resources and increase the
harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in
every way for great generosity, which through us will
produce thanksgiving to God; 12 for the rendering of this
service not only supplies the wants of the saints but also
overflows in many thanksgivings to God. 13 Under the test of
this service, you will glorify God by your obedience in
acknowledging the gospel of Christ, and by the generosity of
The Slavic Reformation Society is a mission of North American churches initiated in response to the great commission of Jesus Christ, which is to make disciples of all nations of the earth. (Matthew 18:19, 20)