Over a period of five days from February 16-21, 2017, the Eurasian churches launched a new Ministry Training Academy program of Biblical teaching for ministry interns and staff. David and Angela Hooper, evangelist and women’s minister of the church in Austin, Texas, USA, traveled to Moscow to deliver the first sessions, which consisted of Old Testament Survey and Spiritual Formation classes.
Held at a privately-owned event center in Moscow called “The Loft,” Hooper taught a group of 34 young ministry interns from Almaty, Kazakhstan, and Russian cities of St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, and Moscow
“I am struck by just how hungry everyone is for deeper teaching. Also super encouraged by the zeal of the young interns,” said David at the end of the sessions. “I think the biggest take-away for myself and for everyone else is just that there is a real need for teaching. Several of the staff members commented that the last ‘Bible School’ type teaching that they remember was… back in the 90s….Isolation and a lack of the resources we enjoy in the English-speaking world punctuates the great need. Many have not moved beyond the basics of First Principles toward a deeper understanding of the faith. I am excited to have hopefully stirred their souls a bit!”
The Hoopers are conversationally fluent in Russian, having married in Moscow and been instrumental in four mission plantings in Eurasia while living there from 1992 to 1996: Kiev, Ukraine; St. Petersburg, Russia; Odessa, Ukraine; and Riga, Latvia.
The vision of the Eurasian School of Missions (ESM) is to provide a full range of training opportunities and resources for a new generation of Russian-speaking evangelists and women’s ministry leaders by means of the following initiatives:
- Identify and train a select group of young men and women devoted to the expansion of the Greater Eurasian Mission work (10 countries);
- Provide ongoing training for any current staff that have never had the opportunity to be involved in a organized training program;
- Provide a shared training experience which will also serve to connected the existing congregations with future plantings and strengthening efforts;
- Establish peer relationships that will hopefully facilitate lifelong relationships committed to effective discipleship, supportive communication and connections, as well as shared goals and planning strategies for the future.
Andy and Tammy Fleming, missionaries to the former Soviet Republics, Nordic countries, and the United Kingdom, are planning to return to live in Russia (St. Petersburg) later this year. They plan to direct the academic program of the Eurasian School of Missions, as well as serve as coordinators working with the East and West ministry-training centers of Moscow and Novosibirsk, and communicating with the US-based Greater Eurasian Missions Society. Overseeing the East training center in Moscow will be Alexsei and Tanya Zhuravlyovi.
Victor and Aksana Polovnikovi will likewise oversee the West training center in Novosibirsk. Together with the teachers already recognized by The ICOC Ministry Training Academy (MTA), other teachers will include full-time staff from Eurasia and supporting congregations with the appropriate academic credentials (i.e., Sergei Glushonkov [Moscow], BA in Christian Ministry; Todd Asaad [Dallas-Fort Worth], MA in Christian Ministry; David Hooper [Austin], Master of Divinity. David is also working toward a Doctor of Ministry in May 2018).
For those who live in the training centers (Moscow and Novosibirsk), the interns will meet twice a week for Biblical teaching, practical training and prayer. As much as possible, these programs will be duplicated in other locations, with the use of Skype and occasional external visits. The Flemings, Zhuravlevs, and Polovnikovs will also help with the support and training of the participants from outside congregations through direct contact with the participants and communication with the local church leaderships. In this way, the Eurasian School of Missions will have two tiers of involvement with core programs running in Moscow and Novosibirsk, and then extension programs in smaller congregations with the benefit of providing more training for the already established leaderships in those places.
The next united session of the Eurasian School of Missions will take place in Autumn 2017.