The city of Izhevsk, Russia, located approximately 600 miles east of Moscow is internationally known as the home of the Kalashnikov rifle. But this capital city of the Udmurt Republic and home to three major people groups (Russians, Udmurts and Tatars) served as the venue for a recent Students for Christ-Europe and Students for Christ-Russia collaborative effort: a student camp with the purpose of planting a new student group in this university city. Working with director Eric Muzart (SFC-Russia & Eurasia Northwest), my first trip to Russia proved to be an unforgettable experience.
The vision for an SFC group in Izhevsk was birthed in the heart of Tatiana, a student herself, who had previously attended several SFC camps in other regions. So she, with a handful of people from her local church, organized the entire conference.
Any inconveniences of being in a forested, former Communist youth camp without the amenities associated with 21st century comfort, were more than compensated for through the servant-oriented hospitality and camaraderie of the Russian students and local ministry workers. Their graciousness accentuated how God worked in our midst during the training week.
As the Lord would have it, this vision for reaching the university was captured by several students from Izhevsk itself. And at the end of the week, a nucleus of five individuals formed the new team, ready to strategically engage the university milieu this fall with the Good News!
The timing of this SFC venture was also perfect because I was able to bring a former SFC-Belgium student and recent graduate in missions studies with me. Having served last year in helping to establish student ministry in a Central Asian republic through Russian language studies, Mike Limpens accompanied me on this trip to help teach and minister again in a somewhat familiar context. This type of mentoring relationship is thrilling to me personally and forms a crux of the trans-generational ministry model we seek to employ in Students for Christ. I think I must have one of the greatest jobs on earth!