My name is Tolu Ladeinde. I am a Nigerian-American who has been serving in Russia as a missionary for about 9 years. My first year in Russia was from 2002-2003. I first worked with the missions organization, Cru, but now I’m a missionary with Assemblies of God. Regardless of my sending mission, my heart has always been about working with young people from ages 16-35. I have lived in three different cities in Russia, experienced really hard things and good things and have interesting stories that I will be telling my grand kids. I’ve gotten to see students changed by the gospel and have witnessed how their friends and families were reached through them. The city of Krasnodar in Southern Russia has been my home now for about six years. My co-workers are mostly Russians and the ministry, except for the English clubs and English movie nights is completely in Russian. I literally feel like I’m getting to watch God raise up mighty warriors who will share the love of Jesus Christ with the young generation in the Southern part of Russia, down into the more Muslim areas of Russia like Chechnya, Nalchik and Dagestan. That is our vision and it is both a bit scary and exciting!
Over the years we’ve seen people like Yura M. and Yura V. best friends who started coming to Alpha course (a bible study for seekers). They were fully against the gospel and very aggressive with their opinions which even intimidated the Russians who were leading the group at the time. They were full of questions and would debate long hours about the truth of the gospel. We watched in awe as the Holy Spirit changed their hearts in a radical way in what I consider a short amount of time. One girl that has been attending for a long time missed about a month of bible study and came back to see Yura M. and Yura V. now leading a topic. She could not believe how people who earlier seemed so clearly antagonistic were now so completely convinced about who Jesus was. That was five years ago and these two guys have learned a lot, stumbled, gotten back up and have been strengthened in their walks. They are still leaders and significant influencers here in the ministry and we thank God for what He’s doing in their lives.
We also have people like Alice, a psychologist who started a retro type of clinic; something that we would see in the U.S but not necessarily in Russia. We connected over our love of the color blue. Just so you understand how much she loved blue, we refer to her as blue-haired Alice (and she rocks that hairstyle!). She and her husband really connected with our team here and the connection was made through English club. She heard the gospel explained by my teammates, seriously evaluated it and decided to fully commit to Christ. I remember the conversation we had when I was trying to evaluate where she was spiritually. We all knew she had been thinking about it but didn’t know exactly what her conclusion was. She began talking about the parable of the seeds and used that to explain her decision to me.
She said “I don’t want to be the seed to fall on rocky ground but I want my ground to be good! I was reading the book by Ravi Zacharias and he explained really well the questions I had about Jesus. I’ve always felt like there’s something missing. Like the psychology I studied was trying to explain something but they didn’t know what…but now I feel like I’m filled inside. I feel like I met an old friend, who I’ve been looking for and whom I missed very very much! At first, when I tried to pray, I recited phrases that I was taught as a kid but after I while, I couldn’t help it and I just burst out saying “God, I love you so much!” I feel like God is close to me.” All I could do was praise God for my new sister.
Over the years, I’ve taken part in a lot of English clubs and camps. We’ve seen how young people like Kolya X. and Dima G. have come to Christ through these events and we clearly see the hand of God in them. Its been interesting to see how the ability to speak English has given us so many opportunities to meet young people. Between holiday parties, camps and different events, it’s been a good challenge trying to find different ways to reach every type of student. The leadership of the church I attend in Krasnodar has also been watching as the section filled with young people slowly grew over the years. Four years ago, they decided to begin supporting our ministry in any way they could. It was a great blessing to us and a testimony of how the Holy Spirit was working in and through us. We now have young adults (those who became believers as students, graduated and began working) who because they’ve understood and accepted the vision as their own, are still leading bible studies, working in different ministries at the church or are part of a team leading specific events.
- Please pray for those who have taken leadership positions or are hosting bible studies in their flats. Please pray for their health.
- Pray for the teams working on the University campuses, for vision, boldness and direction
- Pray for continual growth in their relationship with God. They are the next spiritual leaders here in Russia.
- Pray for relationships in the group. Everyone is at an age where marriage is a huge question…
- Pray for clarity of direction for us as a group and as individuals. I do not know how many times I’ve heard this type of phrase: “I’m ready and I have a great desire to serve God in any way…I’m just not sure which direction to go now” We can easily reach 300 young people a week with the different events. We have about 70 young people who are serving in some way right now. We need wisdom and continued direction from God.
In the fall of 2002, a group of college students came to Krasnodar, Russia to start a student movement. Eleven years later, I get to see Russian young adults leading bible studies, doing outreaches, counseling and discipling, going to Seminary and thinking about what direction God wants them to go. My focus now is helping to train and advise the leadership team, counseling and evangelism and with my team, trying to find better ways to share the vision with the Russians of reaching the Southern part of Russia with the gospel. Its been hard and amazing! Thank you for your prayers. We really need and appreciate them!
© 2013 Thrive.