Supporting indigenous missionaries
Our missionaries and their families are ambassadors of the Good News and they witness to the love of God in word and deed.
You are important for the missionaries!
For our missionaries it is an enormous encouragement to know that friends in Germany are part of their ministry and provide for them financially.
Since LIGHT IN THE EAST was founded we have been supporting indigenous missionaries in their ministry. This principle still applies today in our programme "supporting missionaries personally". Our missionaries themselves come from the countries of Eastern European. So they know from an early age the language, the culture, the people and even the challenges. Our missionaries do not have to undergo a long and costly study of the language and then adjust to the culture. Moreover, their message is better understood by the local population.
Our missionaries are employed by our partner organisations and work in the many and varied areas of LIGHT IN THE EAST's activities. You can be part of the programme "supporting indigenous missionaries" by praying for and regularly supporting a missionary financially.
New missionaries go through a candidate year. Several times a year we write about a new missionary in our LIGHT IN THE EAST magazine. At the end of this year we assess whether the candidate can be accepted for this programme long-term and if sufficient regular support has been found for him.
So that you can also witness the way God uses a missionary in his ministry and through him blesses others, each missionary writes three or four newsletters a year in which he reports on his activities and shares his prayer requests. We translate these letters into German and would be glad to send them to you by post or e-mail.
Introducing our missionaries
Armenian-born Suren Arutjunjan (married to Gajane, two children) has been working as a preacher and missionary in Armenia since 1997. He lives with his family in Erevan, the capital of Armenia, and is at the moment extending the missionary work amongst Kurdish Yazidis throughout Armenia. Besides this he coordinates the work of the mission amongst Armeniens in the region of the city of Ararat, supports small groups there and is at the same time the Academic Dean of the Bible School there. In addition he is working on recording and producing an Armenian-language audio Bible.
Ivan Vylkov is Director of LIGHT IN THE BALKANS in Sofia, Bulgaria. His work involves coordinating the mission's activities, including evangelisation and church planting as well as overseeing social projects, literature work, visiting ministries (especially in homes for the elderly), the ministry amongst Roma, Turks and academics. Ivan Vylkov is also increasingly active in counselling, especially for those burdened by the occult.
Veli Mustafov has been the part-time preacher of a Turkish-language church in the town of Sliven in the Nadezhda (Hope) district since 1997. The church is in an area where mainly Muslims live, which is a challenge in this context. In 2006 he was appointed Deacon and in 2013 ordained as Church Pastor. Since 2015 we have been supporting his ministry with LIGHT IN THE EAST Bulgaria as part of our missionary programme. In addition to regular church activities, the relatives of church members who are not affiliated to the church have attracted his attention. He visits them at home, inviting them to church and telling them of Christ. The church met for years in a small, damp basement room. In mid 2017 they started building their own House of Prayer and are temporarily in other rented rooms. The church is growing and they are increasingly short of space.
Ivan Spassov is involved in nurturing and pastoring a church in Yambol. He supports several Roma churches in the districts of Savoy, Vesselinovo and Slati Voyevoda and a Turkish language church in Sliven. His work includes a children's ministry, literacy programmes, distributing relief aid, counselling, evangelisation, church services and concerts.
Henry Fischbein has been one of our missionaries since 1994 and his ministry involves preaching the Gospel to Russian-speaking Jews in Germany. Since 2001 he has been director of a Messianic Jewish charity and since 2004 pastor of a Messianic church in Stuttgart. His ministry has expanded to include counselling, children's work, support for senior citizens as well as holding workshops on various topics related to Messianic Jews. He himself is a Jew, which is why he is so passionate about preaching the Gospel to Jews.
Alexej Müller lives with his family in Narva and his main ministry is as Director of Eli, a Christian family radio station, and as presenter of its programmes. Here he is involved in both preparing and compiling Russian-language Christian radio programmes and taking part in live broadcasts. Distributing Christian literature, magazines and Bibles in Estonia is one of his main concerns. He regularly visits needy children and families in hostels, senior citizens in homes for the elderly, and instructs secondary school students in Narva in awareness training related to social topics (ethics classes). Alexej can get on well with the younger generation and takes part in the annual summer camps for children, teens and families in Estonia.
Alexander Katana teaches young people in state schools topics of current interest such as the consequences of alcohol abuse, drugs, human trafficking, domestic violence and other ethical problems. In doing so, every year he reaches 6,000 - 7,000 students. In addition, together with young people he organises many social projects. These include aid for the elderly and children as well as camps for young people and families, parents' evenings in schools, workshops for teachers and such like.
Vitali Pokidko began his missionary service in Moldova. He then heard God's call to plant a church in Siberia. Some years later he returned to Moldova. Today he is a pastor and missionary in Chisinau, the capital, and is responsible for developing the missionary work of LIGHT IN THE EAST Moldova. He is also responsible for the staff and missionaries, coordinates ethics classes at state schools and organises children's camps. Together with his wife Christina he attends to the spiritual care of men and women. Since 2010 he has been in contact with local churches and pastors in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
Alexander Pulev (married to Maria, one child) is a professional volleyball player and brings children and young people into contact with Christ in organised sports and tournaments. Since 2005 he has been holding training sessions combined with Bible study for young people with no connection to faith. Many of those who have accepted Christ have themselves become coaches in completely different kinds of sports, and their training sessions include sharing Christ with the young athletes. In the course of the years, Alexander's activities have expanded around this widely blessed ministry. At the moment he is working on equipping leaders for a similar ministry in Moldova and other countries. His wife supports him actively in the ministry with athletes, sports fans and their families.
Lili Paraschivescu has for many years been living in Oltenia, in Romania's poor south, where she is passionate about sharing the Gospel. In the summer months she holds summer camps for children and young people together with a team of young workers, and in the winter months preaches the Gospel in hospitals, children's homes and homes for the ederly. Lili organises women's meetings and visits children in a Roma district. Through her ministry a small village church has been established there. Lili visits people at home, sharing her faith in Jesus Christ with them, giving practical help to cope with every-day life and providing them with the necessary relief items such as clothing or articles for the home.
Piotr Lunichkin is the Director of LIGHT IN THE EAST in Russia. He lives with his family in St. Petersburg, is responsible for our missionaries in Russia, is a preacher and evangelist, has planted a new church there, and takes teams to a children's home with which the church has a close partnership. With his church he holds children's camps and meetings for young people and they provide a warm meal for the homeless at an underground station. In addition he is also a member of the editorial staff of our Russian magazine FAITH AND LIFE.
Dmitri Arsentiev is a missionary and pastor in Saratov. He leads various Bible study groups, organises children's and young people's camps in the summer months, holds workshops and as a counsellor stands by people. He himself says, "Nothing makes me happier than seeing new faces in a church service. The first time they come shyly in and sit down ... I am even happpier when they come a second and third time. This means they liked it and they want to find out more about God. Every time it is then a miracle for me when these people come to Jesus in a simple prayer, and when passive church members become active."
Shirinai Dossova has been a missionary for LIGHT IN THE EAST since 1991. Unselfconscious and outspoken, she is out and about in Moscow's main streets, stations and squares, taking the Gospel to the people. In so doing she is accompanied by young people from her church who assist her by handing out Christian literature. She compiles radio and TV programmes. Repeatedly she has been in contact with central Asian Christians, building their faith and leading them in Bible study. Through her, many people in Moscow and central Asia have already found the way to Jesus Christ.
Elmira Janayeva, née Borsova, grew up in North-Ossetia in an Islamic-influenced family and in 1996 succesfully completed her training as a conductor and choir-leader. In 1996 she also came into contact with the Nadezhda (Hope) church, which is part of the North-Ossetian Mission, and was asked to work with the TROPINKA children's choir. While working with the children Elmira came to faith. Since then she has been responsible for the children's choir. Duriing this time many children have been members of the choir and are today still active members of their churches. In the Republic of North-Ossetia - Alania the TROPINKA choir performs in schools, boarding schools, children's homes, prisons, army baracks and in churches, and even in the neighbouring countries. No one can be indifferent to the children's singing. The clear children's voices go straight to the hearts of many, in this way proclaiming the hope of the Gospel.
Viktor Gandsi (married to Elena, four children) moved together with his wife from the West Ukraine to Russia as a missionary and founded a church in Tolyatti. 14 years later they heard the call to Nizhny Novgorod, where the family has been serving in a church planting scheme for 9 years. Although many people there are not open to the Gospel, it is the Gandsi family's wish to be light and salt for them.
Slava Grin and his family lived for 14 years in the autonomous district of Chukotka in Russia's extreme north-east. He founded a church among the Chukchi people and worked there as an evangelist and preacher. Since 2012, Moldovan-born Grin has been living with his family in Yekaterinburg, the fourth-largest city in Russia, situated on the geographical boundary between Europe and Asia. There are only very few Christians there. Slava Grin directs the local church-planting work and has been pastor of the newly founded church "Book of Life" for three years. Since 2016 he has been director of a Bible school which was also newly founded.
Natasha & Yuri Grizan
Yuri and Natasha Grizan live with their children in Blagoveshensk in the far east of Russia. They have both been active developing church work and preaching, both in churches and at conferences. Equipping young workers and preachers to serve is a further key aspect of their ministry and something they greatly care about. In 2015 they began training as counsellors which in addition enables them to offer both counselling and instruction in counselling in the churches of the region.
Raissa Kechil loves her Tuvan nation and lives in the far eastern town of Kyzyl in the Republic of Tuva. Since 1997 she has been serving LIGHT IN THE EAST, planting churches amongst the Tuvans. Besides instructing church workers, counselling and spiritually nurturing new Christians she is editor of a recently launched Tuvan-language Christian magazine and answers readers' letters. For a long time she coordinated the work of the Tuvan church in Kyzyl and had long hoped for a successor, as due to her age she wanted to step back a little from full responsibility. Since 2016 a young man has been growing into the responsibility: our missionary Ayas Orshak.
Alim Kulbayev has been a missionary with LIGHT IN THE EAST for over 20 years. He is pastor of a Balkar church in the North Caucasian town of Nalchik (Kabardino-Balkaria). Before he became a Christian he spent a total of 16 years in prison because of his criminal past. His work includes producing Christian media in the Balkar language: translating parts of the Bible, spiritual literature, magazines and also audio and video media; occasionally he preaches on radio and television. He is also involved in community support programmes amongst addicts.
The 70,800 Balkars are the original inhabitants of this region. The Balkars used to be Christians, today they are Muslims. Alim Kulbayev works at developing Balkar Christian churches. His ministry has repeatedly resulted in Muslims threatening him. But this does not stop him meeting Balkars with the love of Christ even in the most remote places.
Sergei and Nadezhda Orlov
Sergei and Nadezhda Orlov are LIGHT IN THE EAST missionaries in Kaliningrad (formerly Königsberg). Kaliningrad is the capital of a Russian exclave of the same name on the Baltic Sea between Poland and Lithuania. Nadezhda is a member of the editorial staff of our Russian magazine FAITH AND LIFE and regularly writes articles about faith, life as a Christian, society and the future. She is a preacher and speaker in churches and also plays a part at evangelistic events with the TROPINKA Children's Club. She and her husband regularly meet up to read the Bible in small groups with those who show interest. Sergei is also responsible for the logistics of the TROPINKA Club events.
Ayas Orshak was born in Tuva, the youngest of eleven children. Through the only book of the Bible available in Tuvan at the time, the Gospel of Mark, and through his brother who attended the Tuvan church in Ak-Dovurak, he became a Christian. Since 2016 he has been following in the footsteps of Raissa Kechil and has been assuming more and more responsibility in the church. For this he has moved with his family of seven to Kyzyl. His wife, Saylyk, is also involved in the church.
Piotr Paseka was the Director of our partner mission "Good News", which is mainly active in the Ural and Volga Region, and where he lived until the summer of 2015. Now he is living with his family in Voronesh and is involved in an evangeliistic and church-planting ministry. In the past he has already founded churches in three different places, one in the Ukraine and two on the Volga. In his new homeland he has begun to plant another church. His focus is on personal evangelisation, using creative activities to bring people into contact with the Gospel and inviting them to church where they can find a spiritual home. He especially cares about young people.
Irina Sakharova lives in Kaliningrad (formerly Königsberg) and has been our missionary in the evangelistic TROPINKA Club children's ministry since 2008. For the TROPINKA Club (consisting of children and young people) she is responsible for preparing and carrying out topic-linked evangelistic events, using for example a puppet theatre. Together with the TROPINKA Club and a team of workers she visits children's hospitals, schools and other institutions, inviting people to Christ and to the church. In addition she is involved in organising and carrying out children's holiday clubs in the summer and is responsible for a creative club with Sunday school children and for children with no church connections.
Oleg Shirnov lives in the town of Amursk, situated far in the east on the Amur River - almost at the other end of the world. Since 2006 he has been involved in a ministry of personal evangelisation and preaching among the Nanai people, and several times a week he visits the village of Achan, 80 km away. The life of this nation is influenced by Shamanist customs and rituals. Taking the Gospel to them is a big challenge for Oleg, as they are very hard-hearted. Although he has often known self-doubt, he has kept up his ministry to the people of this village despite much hostility, and it has taken many years for a few people to be found who have discovered the way to Christ through Oleg's witness.
Olga Koshokár lives in St. Petersburg and in 2006 became the successor of our misssionary Nina Beloserskaya from Vladikavkas, who retired from her ministry for reasons of age. Now Olga is responsible for the students of the Bible correspondence course "Christianity in Practice" für adults and "Follow Me" for children.
She goes over and corrects the Bible lessons sent in by the students and answers their questions related to the course. Everyone who completes the course is then sent a Bible. While they read the Bible more questions may crop up, and the former students may request Olga's counselling support, resulting in regular correspondence.
Vladimir Vinogradov's ministry is as coordinator of all the children's and youth work in the ELKUSFO (Evangelisch-lutherische Kirche Ural, Sibirien und Ferner Osten - Evangelical-Lutheran Church of the Urals, Siberia and the Far East) and coordinates the work of the other youth coordinators in the ELKRAS (Evangelisch-lutherische Kirche in Russland und andere Staaten - Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Russia and other states). His many and varied activities include among other things the children's and youth work, organising youth conferences and camps and also his pastoral ministry. As Provost he oversees some churches in West Siberia. He is a mentor for the younger generation working in the churches and holds workshops for children's and youth workers as well as seminars for married couples, women and men.
Vladimir Tsap lives in Cheboksary in the Volga-Ural Region. There he works as a pastor and evangelist. He is attached to our partner mission "Good News". Through his part-time job as a car-park attendant he interacts with a wide range of people who through him have contact with the Gospel. Besides equipping preachers for service his special focus is on orphans and young people, who are especially important to him.
Pavel Davidiuk, Kiev - Director of LIGHT IN THE EAST Ukraine
Sergei Guz has been cooperating closely with LIGHT IN THE EAST since 1996 and has been a missionary in our missionaries' programme since 2012. For many years he was head of the "Union of Missionary Evangelical Christian Churches", an association of churches in the Volga and Ural-Region, until he returned to Ukraine to begin a new ministry here. He is married and has been living in Kiev with his wife Lilia since 2015. In Kiev he has begun to plant a new church, looks after refugees from the eastern Ukraine and works as a counsellor for soldiers who often return traumatised from crisis areas.
Yuri Lysenko, since 2013 one of our missionaries, lives with his wife in the village of Putilovichi in Ukraine. A few years ago he himself became a Christian through the Christian Tent Ministry. His work includes preaching the Gospel in an area dominated by occultism. The people prefer to turn to idols and magicians, are very superstitious and uphold heathen rituals and traditions. Together with his wife he prays that God may open the hearts of the people in and around his village for the Gospel, despite the enormous influence of evil powers. In addition to having a regular ministry for children, they are in contact with alcohol and drug addicts, being to them light and a witness to God's love.
Ludmila Maximenko is a professional actress and director. She became a Christian through the work of LIGHT IN THE EAST and has been working since 1993 for LIGHT IN THE EAST Ukraine in Kiev. She gives acting courses for children and together they record radio programmes for children. She is editor of countless radio productions and in addition directs the recording of radio plays and audio books produced in the Mission's own recording studio. These are very popular with the blind, among others.
Takhir Talipov is a Tatar. In 1992 he began his missionary work, completely on his own, spreading the Gospel among his people in Tatarstan. He built a Christian community step by step. His special focus is on prayer. Prayer meetings were held so as to pray consistently and constantly for a missionary spirit in the church, and the church grew and several more churches were founded. In 2008 Takhir Talipov started working in Crimea. Very many Muslim Tatars live there. Takhir and his family witnessed to the people they encountered by building caring neighbourly relationships and sharing the joyful message of Jesus Christ in their preaching and visiting ministries. Since Russia's annexation of Crimea, this ministry is no longer possible.
Today, Takhir travels to various countries to serve the Tatars living there with the Gospel. He is now living with his wife Anna in Kherson (Ukraine). His work includes: planting churches and training national leaders with the aim of reaching Muslim nations with the Gospel.
Viktor Tanziura is director for LIGHT IN THE EAST's evangelistic outreach in Ukraine. His main task is to organise and lead diverse outreach events. During the summer months he travels together with several mission teams to various places throughout Ukraine, sharing the Gospel with people in a large tent. In the autumn and winter he visits Belarus and Russia for evangelistic events. He organises the outreach teams, holds workshops, plans and coordinates the dates for each of the events and applies to local authorities for the necessary permits. He is motivated by his love of the people and his wish to preach the Gospel to those who do not yet know Jesus.
Alexei Tolochants has his domicile in Kiev, but lives out of a suitcase rather than at a fixed address. Since 2007 he has been working as our missionary in Ukraine, in Russia, Belarus, Moldova, Israel and Germany, directing and developing an international institute for counselling. He has long seen the enormous need for counsellors in churches of the Slavic-language world and is eager to equip and prepare Christians for counselling ministries.
Mikhail Vlassenko is pastor of a church in Poltava and greatly cares about working with small groups. Mikhail leads one of the four Christian Tent Ministries outreach teams in the Ukraine, supports destitute families and assists the handicapped and their families. Since the military conflict began in the east of the country he also attends to the needs of refugees from the south-east Ukraine. His heartfelt concern is to start more small groups in and around his town, bringing people into the church and giving them a spiritual home.
C.C. has been an evangelist and preacher since the nineties. From 2001 he worked in a multi-cultural church for seven years, firstly as deacon and then as church elder, and in 2007 graduated in theology from the Bible Institute of the Baptist Union. In 2010 he became a LIGHT IN THE EAST missionary and since 2013 has been responsible for the Mission in Kazakhstan, being involved in producing evangelistic brochures which acknowledge Kazakh traditions. He seeks and maintains contact to Kazakh-speaking churches in the whole of Kazakhstan, serving as a mentor for their staff.