Posted by: ritagone | January 27, 2016

The Moving Story of What We Do

Tomorrow night I get to tell a bit of the story of Christian Associates, and I am so excited. I am representing CA at the Christian Foundation of the West (CFW) banquet in Moorpark, California, an event where CFW graciously gives away grant money to deserving ministries both locally, nationally, and around the world. CA applied for and won one of these grants, and as a result, a representative of the ministry (me) Pronsk buildinggets to stand in front of all the people attending the banquet and speak for 5 to 7 minutes about this organization that I have spent 20 years loving and serving.

When I first came onto the board of CA so many years ago, curious people would ask me what we did as a ministry. The standard answer was that we were a church-planting organization focused in Europe and Russia, with a presence in North America. Eventually we added a small presence in South America too. But, you know, church planting is not very descriptive and doesn’t quite answer the question of what we do, and back in the day, it was difficult to then go on to give more detail, especially in a part of the globe where church planting could take shape in so many different ways. In the United States, for example, we tend to think of church planting as a group of people – usually small at first – moving into a building – usually rented at first – and starting worship services, all of this through the leading of the Holy Spirit. With a good pastor and lots of help, the church grows, more people start coming, and, VOILA!, you become one of the bigger churches in the neighborhood. Success story! Something to write about and have bragging rights.

a typical Pronsk sinkIn Europe, however, this is certainly not the case. The church buildings sit empty, visited only by the elderly or tourists. Young people want nothing to do with organized Christianity, the religion of their parents or grandparents. Europe is perhaps the most secular continent in the world, a claim which sadly makes many of its citizens extremely proud. And in Russia, with President Putin being more and more anti-religion over the years he has been in office, everything must be done under the radar, which puts a severe damper on things.

In fact, the continent which used to send missionaries to Africa is now receiving missionaries from Africa into Europe as the number of Christians in Africa has increased over the last decades while the number in Europe has decreased. Ironic, isn’t it?

So “church planting” has had to take on different forms around Europe and Russia, but God has not been stymied by the problem I just articulated. (What a surprise!) Instead, He literally has changed the direction of the way we do ministry and what we focus on, and the result has been the most exciting kinds of ministries imaginable, and that’s what I’m going to share tomorrow night at the banquet. Five to seven minutes means I’m going to have to talk fast, because, truly, five to seven hours wouldn’t be enough time to talk about everything God has done in the last decade of Christian Associates’ history. Here are just a few vibrant examples of the many I could talk about:

In Grasse, France, Nicole and Vincent Derieux oversee a ministry called Parfums de Vie, which provides, among other things, an after-school study program for Tunisian immigrant children who live literally below the poverty level.  They also have summer camps, Bible studies, and through these programs, many of the children and their parents have come to know Jesus.

In Glasgow, Scotland, God has opened a door for CA’s Mosaic church to minister to Iranian asylum seekers. They now meet in a private home every Friday night, study the Bible in Farsi, pray together, make and share meals, and help one another through the tremendous red tape bureaucracy of gaining housing and employment in the U.K. system. This wasn’t where Mosaic thought it would be when it started years ago, but this is where God has led it, and it’s glorious to behold.

In Ryazan, Russia, about two hours south of Moscow, Sergey and Katya Pokrovskiy and their staff work with a number of orphanages in the Ryazan area, visiting as often as they can, bringing gifts and laughter to children who find themselves in short supply of both. In Russia, the government-supervised orphanages are austere, to say the least, and at 16, it is mandatory that the child must leave. Uneducated, unnurtured, unmotivated, his or her future is bleak, as you can imagine, and statistically these kids will wind up in a life of crime for the boys and prostitution for the girls. A vital and vibrant ministry of transition homes has increased the chances of success for some of these young people, offering them a place to live from the ages of 16 to 18 under supervision, with training in cooking, finances, and technical training of some sort (i.e., electrical work, beautician’s school, etc.) In a government regime where mention of the gospel must be kept fairly secret, still, the love of Jesus is being shown by offering these children and young adults both nurturing and a chance to better themselves against all odds.

The two photographs, by the way, are of the Pronsk orphanage, built in 1890. As you can see, nothing much has been done to update the facilities in which the children live. The conditions are appalling both physically and emotionally. This is where the Pokrovskiys and their staff pour their attention and love.

I am so proud to be affiliated with a ministry that has been flexible and aware enough of God’s leading to change course as needed through the years. Now, when asked what Christian Associates does, it is very easy for me to explain and get excited about the stories I can tell. There are so many, I hardly know where to start and when to stop.

So, first of all, if you’re reading this and you have ever made a donation to CA, please know that your money is going to worthwhile enterprises around the world. This is a chance for me to say thank you to anyone who has donated and wonders, “Well, where is that money being used?” The work we are doing at CA is cutting edge and life-changing, I am thrilled to be a part of it, and, God willing, can be writing about what we’re doing for many years to come.

 

 

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Responses

  1. Go Rita, we will be praying.

    • Thanks, Tina, it went very well. We received a very generous grant (not because of my speech Thursday night), so we’re very grateful. Hope you and Bill are doing well.

  2. Wonderful blog. I am thrilled to have given to CA over the years.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >


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