Luda and Olesia [oh-LEHS-ya] are best friends and sisters in Christ. When they prayed for a new ministry for God, He gave them more to do than they ever dreamed possible.
One day the women talked about how they could share their faith more effectively with their neighbors, families, and colleagues. Olesia suggested starting a small group meeting. “Let’s make faith fun!” Olesia said, smiling. “Let’s make a warm and friendly place to nurture people’s faith and teach them about God.”
Olesia works in a large company in Krasnoyarsk [KRAS-no-yarsk], a city in Siberia. For several years she has gently shared her faith with her colleagues. Some people listened, and others resisted. But Olesia didn’t give up, and gradually the barriers began to crumble.
So when the small group was ready to start, Olesia invited her colleagues, and Luba invited some neighbors. They began meeting at Luba’s home.
Two of the most important participants in the small group are Luba’s husband and son. Luba’s husband, though not a church member, supports her and her church work with his artistic abilities. He attends the group meetings when he’s free, and he finds the friendship and sharing spiritually fulfilling.
Luba was nervous when the women first started the meetings. But her confidence has grown. “God has answered many prayers,” she says. “I couldn’t have done this without the prayers of our church friends.”
Two people who came to the meetings are Ruslan and Rita. Ruslan belonged to another faith, and Rita had no faith. The two work with Olesia and had heard her testimony many times. They were comfortable meeting together.
“I’ve known Olesia for three years,” Rita said. “I could see that her life was different from other people I know. “She never judges or criticizes others, and she has a peace about her that draws me to her. When I asked her what made her different, Olesia told me it is God. So when she invited me to the small group, I wanted to come and learn more about this God who gives such peace.”
Ruslan was having difficulties in his life. Olesia often talked to him about God, but he resisted her testimony. Olesia didn’t give up but gently mentioned God every time she could. When Luba and Olesia invited him to the small group, he came. “I had a lot of questions about God and wanted answers,” he says. “I felt that I was among friends and could ask any question and no one would judge me.”
The friendliness of the group touched Ruslan’s heart. “The first time I came to the meeting it was my birthday,” he says. “The ladies had prepared a cake to celebrate. I was so touched!”
Rita has no family and only a few friends in Siberia. “Luba and Olesia have become like sisters to me,” she says. “I had no spiritual foundation, and I was searching for something on which to build my life and teach my children. What we’re learning in the small group and at church has provided a strong foundation for my faith.”
When Olesia and Luba invited their friends to attend some evangelistic meetings and then attend the Adventist church with them, Rita and Ruslan both went. The women had laid a strong foundation of faith, so it was an easy transition for Rita to make. Ruslan agrees. “Some friends invited me to their churches, but I found spiritual fulfillment in the Adventist church and this small group.”
Today both Ruslan and Rita have become Seventh-day Adventists. They now share their faith with their friends and colleagues at work and have invited several to join the small group and attend Sabbath School. Ruslan, Rita, and Olesia spend Sundays visiting foster homes, where they offer counseling to the children. “It feels good to reach out to others with what we’ve learned,” Rita says.
“Working with this small group has changed my life,” Luba says. “Preparing for the small group meetings forced me to study more, to pray more. And now I have more people to pray for, so I’m praying more. I’m learning how to talk to people and make friends for Jesus. So I’ve grown a great deal while trying to reach out to others.”
Today the small group rotates among Luba’s, Olesia’s, and Rita’s homes. Small groups such as the one Luba and Olesia have started is helping to grow the church in Krasnoyarsk. Your Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help provide a church home for two of the congregations that now rent government halls for their meetings.