During the past 25 years, Odessa Theological Seminary has trained well over a thousand workers for God’s Kingdom. As an educational institution, most of these efforts have been focused on training national leaders for ministry within traditional Slavic culture. But the question remains, “What about the millions of non-Russians in the former Soviet Union?”Doesn’t the phrase, “for God so loved the world,” include them as well? Are they not also part of Jesus’s Great Commission for his global church?
The Seminary in Odessa prioritizes the opportunity of training cross-cultural missionaries because it recognized that ethnic Russians and Ukrainians are free to travel into “restricted” parts of the former Soviet Union. A growing awareness by Ukrainian churches for the need to send their own missionaries brings us to a crossroads and a strategic opportunity.
Jesus tells his Church that the harvest is both plentiful and ripe. Now is the time, … today is the day. Christians throughout the world are striving to obey the Great Commission and take the gospel to the ends of the earth.
Some, like the Apostle Paul, were trained and able to effectively carry out cross-cultural missionary service. While others, like the church in Philippi, were able to provide the financial resources needed for ministry in a foreign culture.
Join us in sending national missionaries from Ukraine.
During the Soviet period, one method of restricting Christianity was to not allow missionary activity outside the walls of existing congregations, to not allow the training of workers for missionary activity, and to not allow the creation of mission organizations for sending missionaries. As a result of the Soviet experience, when the churches of Ukraine and Russia emerged with new religious freedoms in the early 1990’s, they did so without missionaries, mission organizations, or theological schools for training missionaries. The idea of sending “foreign,” or cross-cultural missionaries was simply absent in the churches of Russia and Ukraine.
During the past 25 years a number of factors have changed within Russia and Ukraine. New churches have been planted, so there is a larger internal base for the sending of national missionaries. Although western missionaries are still welcome and needed, especially in Ukraine, there are fewer westerners than in the past, which has caused local Christians to reexamine their own responsibility in reaching the non-Slavic areas of the former Soviet Union. In the past the outside world was often “closed” to those within the Soviet Union, but with the internet, international trade, and travel, there is a growing awareness by Christians within Ukraine of the needs and lostness of the peoples of the world.
Imagine a world where the Ukrainian church is raising funds from its own members to send its own people into cultures that are closed to western missionaries. They are already developing organizations and plans because they have the vision for reaching lost people for God’s glory. The two areas where most help is needed are the areas of promoting the idea of world missions within the local church and the training of willing Ukrainians to serve as cross-cultural missionaries.
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