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Graduation does not mark the end of a graduate's learning experience. Instead, it is a beginning for new opportunities. Slavic Missionary Bible School has sent over 350 missionaries to Ukraine, Russia, Tajikistan, Croatia and other countries throughout the past eight years, with approximately 40 - 60 young people going each year. Because we believe that our blessings are not limited to only us, we strongly emphasize serving and giving back to those in need, especially in our homeland.
Preparation for missions begins the first day that the students step into the classroom. Multiple courses on practical theory are heard throughout the entire semester. The students pull their forces together as they raise funds for the trip, since all costs and documents are the responsibility of each student. Activities such as good deeds, street ministry, and jail visitations help prepare the students by giving them experience and confidence that is crucial on the mission field. The duration of the trip varies for each student; some can only go for one month, while others stay on for three and yet some dedicate six months to missions. In addition, some feel the call to stay for an undecided period of time. Several students return later on in the year to bring fresh energy and inspiration to those who remain. But no matter how long the trip lasts, the experience of the missionary field is ever-lasting. Not a single student returns unchanged, with the same perspective on life.
The young people going on the trip are divided into smaller groups of approximately 6 - 8 members each. Long before departure, the groups have time for preparation. They raise money for their group and purchase supplies such as children's activities, sanitation products, and much more. Each Student is responsible for contributing $1000 to the group as an individual. They will have many opportunities to raise this money throughout the school semester. Unfortunately if they do not raise the money, they will not be allowed to go with the group. Once they gather all the funds needed, they ship packages to the village of their destination, so that the supplies arrive around the same time as they do. The students also begin preparing songs, skits, and children's programs in order to immediately begin their work upon arrival to the village. It happens that the students partner with existing Christians in the village and work to bring more people to Christ in order to build up the church. Often however, there are no believers in the area and the missionaries have a different task: to plant a new church. Although this is difficult, we believe that all things are possible through Christ Jesus.
The mission field consists of strategies that must be developed in order for the missionaries to be effective. The goal of the missionaries is to befriend the local population by showing love and care, providing humanitarian aid, and finding methods to reach out to them, all with the sole purpose of ultimately leading them to Jesus Christ. This is not easily done because not only is there a range in age groups and variations in culture, but also religion can vary from Orthodox to Islam. Nevertheless, the young missionaries embrace the challenge, which often includes rejection and even persecution, in order to save people from hell.
The following methods and approaches have been used in the past:
Children's programs are always a great opportunity to witness to the young generation, who in turn will reach out to their parents. The missionaries spend time getting to know the children by showing them affection, which most don't receive at home. They play games, make arts and crafts, and lead activities with kids of all ages. Most importantly, we concentrate on telling the children that they have hope for a better life through Jesus Christ. This is done through puppet shows, skits, flannel board presentations, and practical Bible lessons. These kids are drawn to our missionaries like magnets. It often happens that the children await the missionaries in the front yard of their home early in the morning to begin a new day. Thus, the seeds of faith are planted in the youngest generation.
Reaching out to the local youth is important to our teams. This too is done through a variation of methods. The missionaries organize sporting events with the teenagers, which give them the opportunity of gain better acquaintance. They are later invited for fellowship at tea parties and bonfires. Usually, the young people have many unanswered questions about religion and God. This gives us the opportunity to direct them to Jesus and show them that a relationship with Christ is at the core of the meaning of life.
Humanitarian aid can be broken down into several key points, but it is the most effective method, because we are able to show the love of Christ practically to those who need it most. Upon arrival to a village, if the government is willing, our group obtains the lists of people who are most in need; this includes the elderly, sick, orphans, and broken families. Help is shown by buying food for the poor, visiting the elderly and sick ones, and giving a helping hand to anyone who asks. These kinds of actions shock the local villagers, because all of the work is done voluntarily and free of charge. They wonder who we are and why we spend so much of our time and finances to help them. We, in turn, embrace this opportunity to tell them about Christ and the plan of salvation.
Another popular method of evangelizing is by hosting Christian movie nights. Each group has necessary video equipment. Almost all locals look forward to such an event, and many even invite friends and family members from neighboring villages. A movie is shown with a deep spiritual meaning and the missionaries do not miss the chance to spread the word of God.
In addition, SMBS partners with Agape Ministries to serve in orphanages. We send our students to various orphanages across the Ukraine, where they live with the orphans. These young children, who practically have no one, are amazed that people would sacrifice so much for them. They long for attention and love. Most of the kids have horrific pasts and bleak, hopeless futures. Our missionaries desire to show them that there is good in this world and that eternal hope can be found in Jesus Christ.
Most groups put forth much effort into organizing Evangelisms and music concerts. The members invite as many people as possible through advertisements such as flyers, posters, and door to door invitations. Sometimes, a Christian singing group from a nearby city is invited to lead the concert. Other times, the students themselves have to prepare the entire program. Either way, the locals have the opportunity to hear the Gospel through songs and testimonies.
If the group has the resources and capability, they can organize English lessons. This is a very practical method and is extremely attractive to the local population. The missionaries use the Bible to teach the language, thus sowing seeds of faith into the lives of many and pray that the locals also taste and see how good the Lord is.
One of new and very effective ways of evangelical ministry of SMBS is working together with Mobile Medical Clinic. Very often in small villages people do not have access to quality medical assistance since there are no hospitals or clinics. A great team, which includes doctors, exhorters, consultants, volunteers, come to a certain place and help all sorts of people during a three day stay. The way the clinic ministry is setup is that in addition to medical exam and a consultation visitors can hear about the Heavenly Doctor and Savior who could heal the body and soul.
Through methods such as these, the missionaries are able to show the love of God. It doesn't take the villagers long to realize that there is something different about these people. They wonder who we are and marvel that everything is done free of cost. We grasp this opportunity to share the reason behind our service, Jesus Christ!
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