Planting Churches in Eastern Europe
SGA’s Eric Mock says planting a church in eastern Europe is a daunting task.
In America, people will often plant churches by developing a group of people to break away from an existing church to establish a sister church.
In remote areas of eastern Europe, it’s different.
“Imagine packing up your family in a car, driving 2,000 kilometers away to a church building in which there’s nowhere to live. You leave your house behind. You leave your job behind. You drive to the village, you quickly find an old door, cut a hole into it to make a sink, and you move your family into the Sunday school room of one of the buildings…. That’s one of the examples of a missionary family,” in eastern Russia, Mock says.
Like this family, doing Gospel work in eastern Europe entertains a lot of unknowns. Folks who decide to make it their full-time job rarely have the certainty of safety or employment.
Getting Involved in Local Programs
Mock says some church planters will often move into areas and volunteer through different programs and even at schools and orphanages before they are able to start a church.
“Especially under times of persecution, the church grows one life at a time and a lot of the countries we serve, you can’t put up signs and you can’t market the church, you can’t talk about a new church that’s coming to town, and we want to hold a certain event because it’s just absolutely prohibited by law,” Mock says.
“And so, in order to go into a lot of these countries, church planters build these relationships… and then as people start coming to faith, as people are baptized, you inform them together and you must shepherd them along.”
Through programs these Christians use to volunteer, they start building relationships, speaking the Word of God into people’s lives, and branch into other areas of ministry.
“They contact local authorities to find out where there are people living in poverty and they can do compassion ministry. They find out whether they’re able to reach into local orphanages and some start sports clubs, volleyball teams, and soccer teams, and they’re able to start making connections one life at a time.”
SGA comes alongside missionaries through training, prayer and financial support, and equipping them so they can reach their communities effectively through programs like Immanuel’s Child.
SGA’s Immanuel’s Child is well-known for its Christmas program, but its efforts are year-round, reaching out to different orphanages and seeing the Gospel flourish among children.
“There are over 100 indigenous churches between 138 government institution orphanages as well as 80 different locations where we’re talking about street kids, we’re talking about kids in impoverished areas, just an environment that is horrible for most kids, but a tremendous opportunity for the Gospel and for giving them hope,” Mock says.
As missionaries work in these difficult areas, pray the Lord would continue giving them encouragement and support during their ministry and pray villagers would be receptive to the Gospel.
Also, support a missionary through SGA. Your financial gift will be helping the Gospel spread to remote areas of Europe and restoring hope.
Header photo courtesy of Slavic Gospel Association via Facebook.