A Cooperative Effort Targets 150 Commonwealth Cities
The remarkable has become almost the norm, report mission agencies working in the nation that once made up the now defunct Soviet Union.
Responsiveness there to the gospel is at an all-time high, motivating Campus Crusade for Christ, Walk Through the Bible and the Association of Christian Schools International to spearhead a coalition of an ever-growing number of ministries known as the CoMission. Together, they will seek to start thousands of community Bible studies in schools throughout the member nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the former Baltic republics.
The need for this inter-agency collaboration grew out of the remarkable response that The JESUS Film Project saw during 1991 at a series of special training convocations they sponsored for educators, primarily in the Russian Federation. The seeds for those meetings were planted during 1990-1991 at premier showings of translations of the internationally used "JESUS" film.
Repeatedly, Ministers of Education of the different republics who attended the premiers expressed their desire to have the film shown to their students. Taking this one step further, Eshleman and his staff proposed a convocation of three to four days to equip teachers to show the "JESUS" film to their students and to teach the basic Biblical truths.
Since the first May, 1991 convocation in Moscow, 2,959 educators, drawn from areas around eight major cities, have gone through the training sessions. ,Written evaluations completed by the participants at the end of the convocations have been revealing. An average 60 per cent of those present have indicated that they trusted Christ as Savior during a convocation. Eighty percent of those present wanted to attend a weekly Bible study group. An incredible 96 percent of the educators pledged to show the "JESUS" film in their schools.
Faced with such an overwhelm- ing response, organizational leaders developed the CoMission faced the tremendous need for follow-up care of the new Christians. Considering options, they became convinced that school teachers could be trained to lead Bible studies for the many new converts whose numbers far out- paced the existing local churches' ability to keep up.
The CoMission's primary goal is to place teams in 150 cities across the 11 time zones of the Commonwealth nations and former Baltic republics. These ministry teams of mature Christians will provide ongoing training and resources for as many as 60,000 educators expected to be trained at their 50 convocations planned for the upcoming 30 months.
In addition to working with interested teachers, the teams will show the "JESUS" film in schools and to the students' parents, as well as begin video Bible classes developed by Walk Through the Bible to reinforce spiritual growth in the new believers.
Volunteers desiring to go to the Commonwealth commit themselves to a minimum one-year term for which they develop the needed financial backing. A large wave of the initial teams is expected to arrive in selected Commonwealth cities in October, following an intensive two- week training. Recruiting, training and supervision of those going will be handled cooperatively by the participating agencies.
Educators who have attended the Commonwealth convocations continue to emphasize both personally and professionally the need for such training on spiritual values. One leader in the Ministry of Education in the Russian Federation said, "It is true that our country has many problems; however, the greatest problem that we have is that God does not live in our land any longer. ,"Seventy years ago we closed Him out of our country and it has caused so many problems in our society we cannot count them. It has undermined and caused great caverns to run beneath our society and made it collapse. We do not even know how many caverns there are. We must put God back into our country and we must begin with our children."
At the convocations, use of the evangelistic "JESUS" film, coupled with personal interaction, provides countless opportunities for the training staff to present the teachings of Christ to educators. The teachers also leave with resources to reinforce the intensive content they have heard. Each receives a copy of the "JESUS" video in the appropriate language, a Bible, and resource books on the Christian faith.
At a January, 1992 organizational CoMission meeting that drew 45 Christian organizations, it was emphasized that as World War II ended, General Douglas MacArthur called for thousands of American missionaries to go to Japan. Comparatively few accepted the challenge and today less than two percent of the population there is Christian.
The CoMission agencies are committing themselves not to waste the present opportunities in the Commonwealth nations--and beyond. They also hope to see the strategy eventually used in eastern European countries such as Albania, Bulgaria and Romania.
The list of participants in the CoMission continues to grow.
For more information on The CoMission contact:
The CoMission, Box 80587, Atlanta, GA 30366 or call Mary Lee Griffith at (404) 458-9300.