In Russia, most Christians don’t think to use literature and arts as tools for Christian witness. A church in St. Petersburg, Russia, is hoping to change that. The congregation recently asked ReFrame Ministries’ Russian-language ministry team to host a workshop on the subject.
While some on the team were initially skeptical about the turnout for such a specialized workshop, after prayer and careful consideration, they decided to move forward with the event.
The master class was led by a member of ReFrame’s Russian ministry team. Igor* is a popular radio host and author known in Russia for his award-winning blog on the intersections of Christian faith and culture. Igor has a monthly readership of 60,000, and his writings and broadcasts reach non-believing students and young intellectuals who are searching for meaning and purpose in life. His daughter, Dasha, a university student, co-hosted the class.
The Surprising Turnout: Young Russians Eager to Learn
The surprise came when nearly 100 young Russian Christians—mostly in their late teens to early twenties—showed up for the two-hour event, with hundreds more watching online.
The war in Ukraine has sparked many negative changes in Russia. The political climate has worsened and the economy has faltered.
However, despite the potential dangers, young Russian believers are still eager to effectively share the hope and love of Christ with those around them. They recognize that only the good news of the gospel can overcome the evil of war and hatred.
Building Bridges: New Approaches to Evangelism and Outreach
Igor began by explaining that in today’s highly secular world, we can't witness effectively by simply quoting our favorite Scripture passages because the secular culture doesn’t value the Bible. Instead, we must learn how to build a bridge between the gospel and the ethos of the early 21st century.
Literature from authors such as C.S. Lewis, Charles Dickens, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and Leo Tolstoy, and some contemporary authors can help establish an initial connection and point people to the Bible and, ultimately, to Christ.
Dasha shared about her ministry at a local church, where she regularly speaks to the youth group about biblical motifs in the works of famous artists.
The participants then had the opportunity to ask questions, such as which books they should read first and which authors are good recommendations for non-believers who refuse to turn to the Bible yet. Other questions included whether there is space for Christian faith in contemporary literature, what the dangers of modern culture are, and when the best time is to point a seeker to the Bible.
Emboldened to Share Christ
The master class flew by, with attendees sharing their enthusiasm and encouragement at the end. One student, Inna, said she now feels emboldened to bring up Christian faith in conversations with her non-believing friends and in her social media posts. Dmitry, a young public high school teacher, found the suggestions for books with strong Christian themes to be very helpful.
Throughout the class Igor stressed that it is the work of the Spirit to use our testimony to bring others to Christian faith, but it is our responsibility to employ all the tools at our disposal to witness about Christ. Thanks to the Christian Reformed Church’s faithful support, ReFrame Ministries has equipped young Russian Christians with the tools they need to effectively share the gospel in today’s world.
* Last names have been withheld for security reasons.