Missions News & Stories

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Church Building Crisis Grows in Many Former USSR States and Territories

September 1, 2011

As Slavik Radchuck continues his 2011 series of evangelistic crusades this month, the Christian Aid Mission director for the former USSR is calling upon American Christians to help acquire urgently needed church buildings in those countries. Slavik believes that the lack of church buildings and worship centers has reached a crisis stage in many former Soviet states.

Church building in a former Soviet state

Suitable buildings and houses for Christian centers, often available at low cost, are needed for the newly emerging churches in what was once a vast communist empire. Radchuk preaches to thousands in evangelistic crusades throughout the 15 countries of the former USSR. In his travels, he distributes funds from Christian Aid to help local church planting movements with their growth requirements.

He intimately knows the needs of these emerging churches. "Here in the Ukraine," he says, "$17,000 is needed right now to purchase a new worship center in the north. That church building will also provide a much-needed base to evangelize the 39 remaining people groups that are still unreached in this part of the former USSR."

The cost of a house or similar building that could be used as a church ranges from $15,000 to $20,000. While this price is relatively low, it is rarely attainable for congregations of poor new Christians earning less than $200 per month, if they can find employment. To help make up the need, Christian Aid has established a fund to help with building purchases (Gift Code 361BCSU)

In many areas of the former USSR, newly emerging governments require churches to be "registered" so it is becoming more and more important for such Christian assemblies to obtain a building as part of the registration process.

In his native Ukraine alone, Slavik Radchuk works with 11 such ministries. One of them is Emmanuel Mission located near Kiev. The ministry's missionary goal is to reach all the unreached people groups in the Ukraine. Since its involvement with Christian Aid began in 1998, they have planted 745 house churches among former unbelievers, including Gypsies, and former Muslims in Crimea.

Native believers worshipping in a believers house

"In recent years," says Radchuk, "the overall number of Christians has increased tremendously - and is still increasing." Much of this is due in large part to our hundreds of evangelistic crusades and thousands of radio and TV broadcasts. With the financial help of Christian Aid, we are reaching millions of people every year.

As the numbers of Christians grow, more and more believers are requesting discipleship training or training for missionary work; and this training activity needs to be done in designated church buildings according to government regulations.

Another ministry leader, Vitaliy Voznyuk, says that the lack of buildings has now reached a crisis stage, "It has become the responsibility of church leaders to provide a safe place for new believers to gather and learn more about God and His Holy Word - the current environment does not really allow for house churches to flourish."

Mercy ministries are another way to open hearts and witness the love of the Lord Jesus among needy former communists. However, for these kinds of outreaches to occur a "base" is needed from which to distribute medical care, medicine, food and clothing; also to give counseling and basic necessities to the addicted, elderly, infirm, orphans and the poor.

Native missionary baptising new believer in a former Soviet state

Pastor Voznyuk adds, "The Great Commission does not come to an end by bringing a person to salvation. Rather, it leads to discipleship and discipleship often leads to a desire for service in the Lord's work." He says it is through their local churches that believers are discipled, receive training, and then sent forth to plant new churches.

"Without more church buildings, this progress is hindered," he says.

Once disciples are trained for missions, they go into "the field" and rent a facility from which they do their evangelistic work. Once a church is planted in a new area, the cycle begins all over again. So if a church building is obtained for the local believers, outreaches can be established and discipleship and training for Christian leadership begins.

During his last visit, Slavik Radchuk inspected the current property under consideration, and urgently wants to help supply the shortfall needed to cover the $17,000.

"They are asking for our help," he says. "While much is being accomplished, we must remember that among the growing evangelical believers, there are many who have no church, no place to grow, and no potential for bearing fruit. This is where our outside help makes such a big difference."

For more information about indigenous missionary work in the former USSR, please contact steve@christianaid.org. "We have information prepared for those who are interested in helping," says Slavik Radchuk, "including proposals on how to help with particular building projects, broadcasting and crusades. These are available to individuals, churches, Sunday School classes and Christian groups who want to support native projects in the former USSR."

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