Celebrating 20 years of training Russian women in ministry
Prayer, tears, rough beginnings result in nationwide training program
Liz L., Entrust
“We don’t need anyone from America coming to tell us how to do women’s ministries. We have been doing women’s ministries for 70+ years in Russia.”
That statement from a Russian sister in Christ at an early meeting about a possible nationwide training program, was not the start I had hoped for. Years later, we often laughed about that less-than-auspicious start, one which was compounded by the fact that I did not speak Russian, was relatively new to the culture and was feeling at a total loss about what I had gotten myself into.
But, over the next four hours, tears and prayers began to flow as we sought the Lord’s guidance together. The result of that meeting and many more, involving increasing numbers of additional Russian and American women, is what became known as the National Women’s Training Ministry - Russia. It was a cooperative effort of Entrust, East-West Ministries, Greater Europe Mission and the Evangelical Baptist Union of the Federation of Russia (aka The Baptist Union).
Valentina, a former Communist Party leader who came to the Lord late in life through people from East-West Ministries and who had recently gone on staff with East-West, lent her leadership expertise to the fledging effort to help begin this ambitious project. Her determination and vision were crucial in sustaining NWTM through some difficult early beginnings, and she was tremendously valuable in helping the Americans involved in dealing with “all things Russian.”
Several years later, Vera, who had emerged as the highly capable Russian leader of NWTM, told us a beautiful story. Nearly a decade prior to the launch of NWTM, she and the leadership team of the Baptist Union’s Women’s Ministry had spread a map of Russia on a table and prayed that the Lord would somehow make it possible to train women in ministry across the then 11 time zones of Russia. As they prayed, their tears fell on the map. “This training (NWTM),” Vera said, “is the answer to those tearful prayers.”