Irina* had been leading a Christian counselling ministry for several years when she had an emotional encounter in prayer. This ministry is based in the remote city of Vladivostok in the far east of Russia. As Irina prayed, she realised she was afraid of her role as a leader within this ministry. She cried out to God,
“Why did you choose me? I am nothing and nobody. I am just a wife. There are so many people who are better than I am. I didn’t want to be a leader.”
Later that week she remembered something a friend had told her. This friend – a pastor’s wife – had been commending the training of someone called Madina. She had shared how impactful Madina’s leadership training had been for their own ministry in Central Asia and had encouraged Irina to reach out for it.
As Irina recalled this conversation, she knew instinctively that God was answering her prayers.
Madina is Innovista’s Regional Director for Central Asia, and operates under the radar in many high-risk settings. As the context for ministry in Russia gets harder, Madina and Irina have been able to connect online for remote leadership training. And it has been transformational.
Before the first session, Irina was worried. She knew her team was full of experienced pastors who ran their own churches. She didn’t know what they would make of this training. But after the first session, everyone was buzzing. One of the team, the pastor of a big Methodist church, who is also a counsellor, and teaches in the local seminary, said,
“I have copied the material – I want to run these sessions with the leaders in my own church!”
Another leader said that she felt she had needed something, and wasn’t sure what, but Madina’s training was exactly what she had been looking for.
Irina highlighted something which she herself found particularly helpful; being able to challenge the Soviet style of leadership – a harsh and unyielding style which was as much in evidence inside the church as outside. Working to develop a strong team dynamic, where everyone knew their role and their gifts and pulled together, was so helpful.
With Irina’s help, this team has flourished. They have all benefitted personally from the prayer and healing ministry they offer to their community, and together are loving and serving those around them with the hope of Jesus.
Sadly, this training has been on pause in the last few months but we thank God for the doors which online training is opening for us in other countries.
Please pray for Irina and the team in Vladivostok as they continue to minister to those in need throughout the Russian war with Ukraine.
* We are not using real names, or disclosing specific locations, in order to protect those we serve.