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Bringing Hope to the Hopeless by Denis Kozlov

15 May 2015 No Comment

osipovs2When we conduct short-term missions trips to Saint Petersburg, Russia, we try to make time to go the town of Pushkin–just outside Saint Petersburg–to visit our friend and partner, Vladimir Osipov, and minister at his church, rehabilitation center for drug addicts, and at his mission school.

Along with many familiar faces, we always meet new people seeking treatment. They vary in age and some can be rough looking. They come from all over the former Soviet Union seeking treatment at the rehabilitation center. They represent different stages of the Christian walk: Some are brand new believers, while others have gone through the rehabilitation process and are now in the mission school. Still others are getting ready for their three-month practicum as part of their mission training.

I want to share how this ministry started, but, before I do, I would like to ask you to consider supporting RRR.

As you do, you help leaders like Vladimir who restore ruined lives of so many, working with them to create powerful testimonies of God’s love and power. Even if you have never given before, I ask that you consider starting this month.

In early 1990s, Vladimir was a young Christian who felt called by God to plant a church in Pushkin. He sold his apartment in Saint Petersburg and moved to Pushkin along with his wife and children. There was much resistance from many, including his own unbelieving family who thought he lost his sanity. Yet it was a great success. The church plant flourished and reflected the time of revival sweeping through Russia, and quickly, and, before long, the church grew to several hundred.

The success of the church was, in many ways, brought about by the leadership team that Vladimir assembled. Within a few years of planting the church in Pushkin, Vladimir was asked to help a group with a desire to plant another church in Saint Petersburg. In wholehearted supported of the idea, he released most of his leaders to join the effort, fully convinced that he would be able to raise new leaders in a short time. Little did he know that the times were changing. The enthusiasm evident in the revival had subsided.

Dedicated leaders were gone to start another church, and plans to raise new leaders failed. People in the Pushkin church were busy with life, and this presented quite the conundrum.

As usual, God had something in mind. Vladimir began meeting drug addicts whose lives were destroyed and despised bypushkinclass society, so he started ministering to them. Many of the addicts were willing to not only accept Jesus, but to follow Him radically. There is no middle ground for addicts. Most are in a life-or-death struggle. When Vladimir started bringing addicts to church some became quite upset, and some tried to stop him from ministering to addicts. Some grew angry and left the church, and, just like the world, they wanted to keep these people at a distance because they did not see any worth in them. But Vladimir saw these people as both precious to God and filled with potential to become leaders in the church and workers in the kingdom of God. He turned out to be right. Today, people come from all over the world to learn from his experience.

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Here is how the program works: Addicts come from all over Russia seeking help. Usually, they learn about the center from former drug addicts who were delivered from addiction. After being admitted, they go through a year-long program that begins with accepting Christ as Savior. Each will have someone personally discipling using one-on-one relationships. After the first three months, they are given responsibility to become a discipler for newcomers to the center. During that first year, they work, pray, study the Bibles, and learn to serve others. After one year, if there were no relapses, they graduate from the center and are encouraged to consider going to the mission school–and many do. In the first three months of mission school, they study and work hard. Classes include courses on theology, Church history, and practical ministry workshops. After six months, they are sent to towns and villages as missionaries for three months. The rules are simple: They do not go to the place they came from. They must go to a place that is unfamiliar. They must live in subordination to and accountability with to a local church or a Christian rehabilitation center. Lastly, they must disciple at least one person using the tools learned at the mission school After three months, they return to the mission school to debrief and receive the last part of the training.

This work started in 1999, and, as of today, 1500 people have cone through the rehabilitation program and over 200 graduated from the mission school. Most of the missions school graduates have become Christian workers and ministers throughout Russia. This is just one of many works supported by RRR.

Thank you for supporting RRR.

Denis Kozlov.

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