Here in Eastern Europe, people have for decades faced many different struggles in believing what they are told by people in authority. Today, this creates huge barriers to gospel belief.
These words constantly challenge us: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) How is it possible to be sure about something, when we have not seen it? Here, people have many struggles with belief:
- Different regimes and leaders have often lied and covered up truths.
- We currently live amidst a physical war and a propaganda war with a neighbouring country, with rivalling ‘narratives’.
- Many are poorly educated and have not travelled abroad.
- Years of poverty have left people with no prospect for change, causing cynicism or fatalism.
How is it possible to bring God’s truth into such a broken and needy situation? People long for truth, yet many of the questions we are asked are about myths and false teaching.
We were recently asked whether we should believe the wild conspiracy theories around COVID-19, which have run rampant even among our churches. We sometimes feel that we spend more time ‘un-teaching’ false ideas than teaching true things!
Yet God’s truth is unchanging and is for all cultures and all people, in every era. We have seen young men here get so excited to discover the power and authority of God’s Word in every situation. To help convince others of what we do not see, we have become convinced of the following urgent needs here:
Living out the truth that we preach
Without this, how will people ever believe us? Slavic people want to see how every Bible truth works out in ordinary, everyday life and struggles. Perhaps this is why the Lord has sent us so many struggles of our own in recent years, with our health, language, and family! Please pray that we will live out the gospel ourselves, as we point others to follow Christ.
Repeating the big truths
Probably nothing is more poorly understood in our churches than grace itself – the very heart of the gospel. Preaching about it once or ten times is not enough, we need to keep pointing to what God has done for us in Jesus week after week, praying that he will apply it to many hearts. When a lady discovered grace recently, she said, “We can live through anything now, so long as we have grace!”
Pointing people to Jesus and away from themselves
Even in the ex-Soviet world, the postmodern idea that ‘truths’ can be personal for me is so prevalent. Yet the Bible gives us eternal truths that are bigger than ‘me’ and ‘my issues’. We keep repeating that, in the gospel, we become part of God’s bigger story, not just that he is part of ours!
Investing in others
If we ourselves teach and eventually leave, we will impact only a few. Yet God’s truth is to be passed to future generations. So we try to prioritise spending time with men and women who have the desire to go deeper in the Scriptures and have the gifts to open God’s Word to others. Please pray that their ministry will grow and spread to others, so that many will be convinced of the truth. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)
Written by UFM mission workers who have been serving and training others for ministry in Eastern Europe since 2007