Through 12 hubs in 6 countries, we are identifying, supporting and developing catalytic leaders to take the hope of Jesus to those around them.
Each hub is led by local Christians who know the language, culture and challenges of their context inside-out. They are excellently placed to train and support leaders who are doing pioneering work that communicates and demonstrates the gospel.
Ukraine’s 43 million people have been devastated by the war, which has destroyed homes, killed thousands, and displaced nearly six million refugees. The tired and traumatised population still face on-going bombardment from missiles, drones and shells, and there have been widespread abuses in the occupied areas, including the church being targeted.
Innovista has worked with a large network of Christian leaders in the country for nearly twenty years. Although many young leaders are inexperienced and isolated, and only around two percent of the population are Christian, the church has been growing during the conflict. Many courageous individuals remain in the country and are at the forefront of helping their communities, including serving the most vulnerable in highly dangerous locations. Generous supporters have enabled Innovista, which has hubs in Kyiv and Lviv, to provide over 100 grants to more than 40 churches involved with relief work. These have supplied everything from medicine and food, to Bibles and generators. A Resilient Families programme has also been launched to help families cope with the emotional damage of the conflict. Although the future remains uncertain and church leaders are under great pressure, they continue to look for ways to be Jesus’ ‘hands and feet’ during the conflict, by showing love to those around them and sharing the message of hope.
Bordered by Romania and Ukraine, Moldova is one of Europe’s poorest countries. Its Gross Domestic Product is only a quarter that of Romania and just one-eighth that of the UK. Its infrastructure is poor and there is no running water in some rural areas. Corruption and crime are rife, and modern slavery is a particular problem with many trafficked into forced labour or prostitution. Moldova also has one of the highest levels of alcohol consumption in the world, which has led to widespread problems of addiction, violence and ill-health. Faced with so many societal challenges, many young people want to leave, as they don’t see a future in the country.
Predominantly Orthodox, the country’s population of 2.5 million remain largely unreached by the estimated 130,000 evangelical Christians. Young believers are keen to change this, but they lack positive role models, support or training. Innovista Moldova has been seeking to equip and empower these new leaders for fruitful mission.
The Muslim-majority countries of Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) are very challenging and dangerous locations for Christians. The two countries Innovista has staff in are both on Open Doors’ ‘World Watch List’, because of the high levels of persecution believers face. Converts to Christianity are rejected (or worse) by their families and communities, and human rights abuses are commonplace, including violence, arbitrary arrests and fines.
Church leaders have to be not only extremely careful, but also creative in how they support and mentor young leaders as the difficult economic conditions and widespread corruption lead many to leave the area.
The region remains geographically, culturally and spiritually hard to reach. The church is small, under-resourced and under pressure, but the few who follow Jesus, do so wholeheartedly. They are passionate about reaching the unreached, and are asking to be shown how. Local Innovista staff in Central Asia are helping to equip a new generation of courageous Christian leaders to see their communities changed by the love of Jesus.
Ireland is a young and vibrant country but, even though four out of five people still identify as at least nominally Christian, the culture is secularising fast. There has been a sharp decline in church attendance, as many people have lost trust in the Catholic establishment, following the high-profile abuse scandals. By contrast, only around 1% of the indigenous Irish population are evangelical Christians, which is the lowest proportion in the English-speaking world.
Based in Dublin, the Innovista Ireland team helps to equip leaders to pioneer creative and effective ways to reach local people with the hope of Jesus. They have developed a network of coaching volunteers to help church leaders, and run leadership courses, programmes to help young adults and pastors, and workshops for churches and leaders. They also started the RISE community project, which over 600 teenagers in Dublin have been through in the past decade. Now run by an independent team of youth leaders, it is designed to bring about change and teach leadership skills, as young people learn how to identify and meet the needs of others through community projects.
The number of people describing themselves as Christian in Great Britain has been sharply declining over the last few decades. Around 46% of the population in England and Wales did so in the last census, but far fewer have a personal faith in God.
Although the church invests considerable resources in mission and outreach, many British people are not reached by the gospel of Jesus in any meaningful way. Poorer and under-resourced communities, such as many former council estates, have been particularly under-served by the church. Few young people growing up in these settings get the opportunity to ask big questions about life or to explore spirituality in a safe and supportive space. But when they do, many start to grow in faith and use their own God-given talents and abilities to work towards a better future. Innovista helps to develop Christian leaders through training and coaching, including those called to ministry in disadvantaged communities.
Innovista also identifies, equips and develops leaders serving in other challenging contexts around the world. Much of this is done through partnerships with organisations that share the same vision to see communities transformed by the hope of Jesus. The local Innovista teams are always looking to reach new people with the gospel message, and many of them are regularly involved in church mission around their regions and their neighbouring countries.