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Central Asia Mission Initiative
The Central Asia Mission Initiative continues to gain momentum each year. The movement focuses on creating new faith communities throughout Central Asia. In 2015 there has been much momentum in planting new congregations in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. And God is faithful. New leaders continue to hear and follow God’s call to the difficult ministry of church planting, while also preparing new communities of faith to be open to The United Methodist Church. The Extension Seminary of Moscow Theological Seminary continues to grow with new students, training both young and older adults to lead the church as clergy and lay leaders.
Each of the new faith communities being born throughout this region has unique ministries that meet the needs of their neighbors. Some groups focus on youth, women, or the elderly, while others focus on rural poverty and recovery from addiction and rehabilitation. Another ministry reaches students from India and Pakistan who come to Kyrgyzstan for continuing education, especially in medicine.
Just as in the Christian church in the first century, the drive for ministry by local leaders is truly inspirational and courageous. Three missionaries and three Nationals in Mission provide outstanding support for leadership development and training, and spiritual outreach. There are 11 churches, an additional five faith communities, and 11 pastors in Central Asia.
In the years to come, the Central Asia Mission Initiative will focus on strengthening existing congregations to help them move toward self-sufficiency; creating new Bible groups with indigenous leaders; developing clergy and laity leadership; continuing to develop social services; expanding medical missions to new regions of Central Asia; and spreading the gospel among youth and young adults. Bishop Eduard Khegay of the Eurasia Episcopal Area provides episcopal oversight for the mission.
The complex, often-oppressive political environment is one of the greatest challenges faced by the church in this region. Although several United Methodist churches have been officially registered as legal entities in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, the church is not registered as a denomination. In some countries in this region, the church has to act as a nongovernmental organization in its role as an agent for social and economic change, with spiritual outreach taking place through word of mouth. The geographical breadth of the region encompasses broad cultural and ethnic diversities, as well as cultures deeply rooted in Islam.
In the absence of a United Methodist presence, the first missionaries were critical in cultivating local leadership and developing new churches and ministries. They played multiple roles in Central Asia such as preacher, teacher, church planter, advocate, evangelist, and organizer. For more information on missionaries serving in Central Asia today, view the Mission Initiatives page.
In Mission Together Partnerships
The In Mission Together coordinator provides training for U.S. churches to develop healthy partnerships as they move from short-term ministry to long-term relationships that build the capacity of the church in Central Asia. The coordinator also connects the church in the United States with ministry in Central Asia and assists with communication between the two. The In Mission Together coordinator for Central Asia is MiRhang Baek (firstname.lastname@example.org). Share your prayers and get real time updates by joining the Facebook group page for this Mission Initiative. Visit the page and click on “Join Group” to become a part of the conversation.
For more information or to become involved please contact Üllas Tankler, regional executive for Central Asia (email@example.com), or you can give to the Central Asia Mission Initiative, Advance #14939A.