InterACTION - May 2016 Ivan Comes to Christ

By Lucas Orner

“I’ll come to church,” Ivan (name changed) told me, “BUT I’m going to be really busy next month with my studies, so I probably won’t be able to come again.” I’ve gotten used to the gentle rejection that Russians give to avoid exposing themselves to evangelical Christianity. Church remains a mystery to most Russians, one they have no interest in uncovering. Years of Soviet propaganda portrayed churches as deceptive and dangerous to society. And to this day people avoid associating themselves with evangelical “sektanty” (sectarians).

This young man Ivan had been my friend for a few years and had become close with my family. I had shared the gospel message with him many times, but he was never interested. However, a few months ago, in His perfect timing, God orchestrated a series of events that drew Ivan into close contact with the church and the body of believers.

First, God got him to church. There happened to be an American visiting Krasnoyarsk who wanted to attend our service. Ivan offered to help him navigate the public transportation system to get him there. The next Sunday he came again after he heard that our kids would be performing a song – although he warned me on the way there that he wouldn’t be able to come again!

Second, God provided the perfect chance for Ivan to interact with church members in a less formal setting. After that second visit, the church decided to throw together a picnic in the nearby forest, and Ivan came along. We played volleyball, ate some good Russian BBQ and had a great time.

As I was driving Ivan home after the picnic, he did a 180 and said to me, “Those are great people. I think I want to come back to church next week.” The picnic had been the perfect context to show him that believers are not only normal and fun people like anyone else, but also filled with a hope and joy that are not common in Russia.

A month later, Ivan passed on some good news– “I’ve repented and accepted Christ!” A couple months later, Ivan’s childhood friend, a well-read atheist, accepted Christ, too, and has become active in the church. To see these two young men pursuing God is such a pleasure!

There is an exciting journey ahead in discipling these young men. Just reading the Bible is foreign to them. But their excitement as God reveals new things to them is contagious.

English teaching ministry offers opportunities for unbelievers to build relationships with local churches and believers, so that people like Ivan can move from skepticism to belief. Please join us in praying for more workers in the Russian field. Or, if the Lord is leading you, join us here in Russia! †

I’ve gotten used to the gentle rejection that Russians give to avoid exposing themselves to evangelical Christianity. Church remains a mystery to most Russians, one they have no interest in uncovering.

Missionary Profile: Lucas & Jamie Orner

Lucas and Jamie met as undergrad students at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. Six months after their wedding (summer 2003) they did their internship in Siberia with InterAct, where God opened their eyes to the needs among the 40+ unreached Siberian people groups. Their three children are an integral part of their ministry as their family stands out in a society of broken families. Their children love life in Russia, especially getting to ride the train and playing on ice slides in the winter. The Orner’s ministry can be summarized by saying they support church planting in Siberia, and that comes in many forms. They are involved in discipling, hospitality ministries, teaching, English clubs, evangelism, etc. They arrived in Siberia in October 2008, and spent a year-and-a-half studying the Russian language. They currently live in Krasnoyarsk, a city of a million people on the Trans-Siberian railroad. They look forward to welcoming their fourth child later this year!

InterACTION is a monthly publication of InterAct Ministries

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