Crossing the Ethnic Divide

Crossing the Ethnic Divide

29 Feb 2016

Like many ethnic minorities in Russia, Oleg had a difficult start in life.

His neighbourhood is situated at the very edge of Omsk, separated from the rest of the city both physically and socially.

Most of the travellers and migrants living around him struggle to make ends meet.

Oleg had a difficult start in life

Oleg’s mum died six years ago when he was 13. At her funeral, he met his father for the very first time.

Whole Communities Without Christ

But for Oleg (pictured), hope was not far away. Just down the road was a church who had the opportunity to meet his needs and those of his community. But even in the city’s churches, it seemed that different ethnic groups didn’t mix.

To Stanislav, the church’s youth leader, this didn’t seem right.

It made no sense to him that there was a whole community of people living down the road who Jesus loved but who his church wasn’t reaching.

Even in the city’s churches, it seemed that different ethnic groups didn’t mix.

So Stanislav, 20, set about trying to convince his youth group of the need on their doorstep. But the more he pleaded with them to reach out, the more they seemed to retreat.

Here was a young leader with a vision of hope, but who lacked the training and support to make that vision a reality.

Supporting Stanislav’s Vision

Determined to convince his youth group that following Jesus meant being a missionary, Stanislav signed up to one of Innovista’s Tempo training programmes to become a better leader.

Thanks to Innovista supporters, he learnt how to inspire others with a vision. And he learnt about himself as he looked at the behaviours of a servant leader.

Stanislav watched things change as he put his training into practice.

“I began to admit my mistakes openly with my team. As a team, we identified our dysfunctions and started to solve them. Now we put more effort into unity.

“Our team became more united and more committed. We began to love people and accept them as they are.”

Mission Changes Lives

Last summer, Stanislav and his team of willing young people crossed the ethnic divide to run an outreach project for the young people who lived down the road. They ran sports sessions, hosted a street festival, and took them away on a youth camp.

Oleg came on the camp. He met Stanislav and his team, and heard about the God who loves him.

Overwhelmed by the love of his heavenly Father, Oleg accepted Christ as his saviour.

Five other young people did too.

Today, Oleg is still awestruck by the love of Jesus that Stanislav and his team showed him.

And he wants others to see that too. That’s why he’s helping with the youth ministry and learning from Stanislav.

Oleg is still awestruck by the love of Jesus that Stanislav and his team showed him.

Together they’re planning another outreach for this summer.

Who knows what God will do next?

Sponsor a Leader

You can find out more about our Sponsor a Leader programme here. The programme equips young leaders to lead local mission more effectively.



They Arrived With Nothing

Christians in the Siberian city of Omsk recently had an amazing opportunity to show God's love to Ukrainian refugees. Read about it here.