Michael Johnson is the president of Slavic Gospel Association, a nearly 90-year ministry that partners with hundreds of missionaries and more than 6,000 evangelical churches across Russia and the former Soviet Union. He travels extensively in the former Soviet world and Israel where their ministry assists Russian-speaking congregations.
Formerly known as the Russian Gospel Association, the Slavic Gospel Association has an interesting history going back to the time of Joseph Stalin who was persecuting the church. On the other hand, Peter Deyneka, the founder who was from Belarus, sought to do just the opposite and find ways to minister to people.
In 1934, the ministry was established in Chicago as a ministry of prayer, hopeful that the walls of communism would come down. They were also involved in radio ministry in partnership with Trans World Radio, FEBC and HCJB. It was a time when the communists said they would eradicate any form of religion from their countries and put the last Bible ‘under glass’ in a museum in Moscow. Even though Peter left this life in 1987, God blessed his prayers in a big way as the walls of communism came down 3 years later.
SGA operates under the authority of churches in the nations they serve and while the amount of freedom varies from country to country, he indicated that those churches are allowed to establish various theological training institutions. Once individuals are trained, they secure sponsors to the U.S. The SGA then sends national church planting families into previously unreached towns and villages to evangelize and plant new churches. Included in this effort is the providing of resources to meet both the physical and spiritual needs of people in the various communities.
How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting Russia? While noting the challenges it presents, in the end Michael believes, ‘…this (the coronavirus pandemic) represents the greatest opportunity for the proclamation of the gospel since the fall of communism.’
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