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An "Afternoon" of European Christianity

Q&A with Members of Our Eurasia Leadership Team

Case Study #2: Eurasia

In February 2022, after enduring two years of a global pandemic through innovation and prayer and amid rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine, several leaders from our Eurasian Continental Unit sat down with headquarters staff to discuss the future of evangelism in Europe.

Participants in this conversation include: Ondrej Garaj, continental director; Stefan Vujcik, Central and Western Europe area director; Zuzana Marfoldiova, operations director; and Gabriel Kosmaly, Eastern Europe and Russia area director.

Q: Set the stage for us.
What was ministry like in your context in 2021?

A: Ondrej:  The pandemic was a shock for ministry directors… Some ministries used this challenge to transform their way of communicating the gospel through different media. They started Facebook channels, organized YouTube services, and started podcasts.

Stefan: I think that when the pandemic came… for some of them, it was a blessing. They started to be really creative. They built new relationships, made new tools. I call this group “bridge-builders.” These directors were able to rally their teams…

Gabriel: What I see as the main challenge is not only COVID but the polarization of society. How can a church, and how can Christian ministries, bring healing in society?

The second thing impacting ministry is uncertainty. For example, in my region there is a growing risk of conflict between Russia and Ukraine. The Christians serving in Russia are uncertain when the government will finally close them down. And one director in a Creative Access nation in our region showed us a list of people, dozens of names, taken by the state police just in one month. He showed me the rock-climbing gear in his kitchen tied up so that when the authorities come for him, he can jump out of the window and escape… But they are focused on how they can share the gospel up until the last minute.

Q: What do you see as the future of Every Home ministry as you respond to these changing situations and obstacles?

A: Ondrej:  [Personal outreach] is a new way of evangelism we can expect [to be more common]. Because the trustworthiness of the gospel has been called into question. Young people have seen it misused, abused. They ask, “Why do you invite me into such an organization?” We can overcome this question only by building up the trustworthiness of Christianity, the trustworthiness of the message and of the messenger.

Every day, advertisements come in the mailbox. The gospel is not something which can be sold between other products. So, this personal way is where everyone is accepted without feeling that they are the target of religious fishing.

Zuzana: And, also, you just have to give personal care to people. Like, you wouldn’t believe the first person you met in the street who said, “This religion is the best thing that has happened to me.” You would need to first become their friend. Sharing the gospel is just the first step. Then, the next step is friendship. Then, the person starts asking questions about Christianity — “Tell me why this Jesus is so important to you.”

Q: So, what’s filling you with hope and joy right now as you plan for
the future?

A: Ondrej: For me, it is the blessing of starting new ministries…

Zuzana: I love to see the creativity that goes into looking for new ways to share the gospel. That reminds me of how God is creative in making himself known to us. For example, one ministry in our region created a book of shadow theater. It’s a booklet with pages cut into the shape of the Christmas story, and you are supposed to hold it up to your phone and project the shadows up onto the wall to tell the story. It is really cool and creative. And it comes from a person who really loves his people and his nation.

Gabriel: I am encouraged by those people who were the first on the field to be laid off when COVID came. They were comforting us! And they continued to work. It just impressed on me that this is much higher and much deeper… than the pay and the pictures and whatever we are dealing with in our daily lives. This is the core. This is the commission that they live by. And they would live by this even if we were not here to pay and support them. It is good that we can learn to serve them. That is the whole point, in my opinion.

Q: If you had to sum up briefly what God is doing in your area of the world, what would you say?

A: Zuzana: He’s working. He’s on the move!

Ondrej: In the afternoon of European Christianity, we are looking to the morning of new awakening.

Stefan: In the whole season of the pandemic, God showed us that we should dream big and be brave because he is still with us.

When we sat down with our brothers and sister from Eurasia, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine was a murmur in the distance, a grim possibility we prayed would not come to pass. Now, words spoken during our conversation ring still more true. The believers of Eurasia continue to minister tirelessly in the ministry of the gospel despite tremendous obstacles and uncertainty. They forge ahead boldly, strengthened by the knowledge that God is with them.

*This conversation is an excerpt of a longer dialogue. 

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