Slavic Gospel Association’s ‘Christ Over COVID’ response tops 500,000 meals served, as Russia hits new infection high
LOVES PARK, Ill — A U.S.-based mission to Russia and the former Soviet Union today announced its on-the-ground church taskforce has distributed more than 500,000 meals to desperate families as Russia’s coronavirus infections hit a new high.
Russia has jumped to third place behind the U.S. and Brazil in new infections, now officially at more than 360,000, with more than 3,800 deaths. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said he believes 250,000 could be infected in the capital alone, where crews were spraying disinfectant over the streets.
“It’s reached a critical point,” said Michael Johnson, president of Slavic Gospel Association (SGA, www.sga.org), an Illinois-based organization that partners with a grassroots network of 6,350 evangelical churches across the former Soviet Union to support orphans, widows, and families in need. “Much of the region remains in a state of lockdown, and people are getting desperate as food supplies run low.”
Remote rural communities are struggling because they have little infrastructure or government assistance. “In many areas, the local church is the safety net. There’s no other help,” Johnson said.
Working directly with local evangelical churches from Eastern Europe to the Bering Strait off the coast of Alaska – a distance of 4,170 miles – SGA is delivering critical food aid to the exact point of need, even to isolated villages above the Arctic Circle.
For $10, SGA provides food to assist a family for one to two weeks. Usually, food is purchased in the community to support local sellers.
Sharing Food, God’s Love
“Our goal is to equip local Christians to help their neighbors in this crisis and show them God’s love in action as well as through their words,” said Johnson. “People in the villages are saying, ‘the government doesn’t help us. Only your church helps us’.”
Among those at risk of going hungry are Russia’s 700,000 orphans and unwanted children, typically housed in state-run institutions. Many of these facilities were forced to close because of the coronavirus, and thousands of children had to return to unsafe households, with parents or guardians addicted to drugs and alcohol.
“We’re appalled at the terrible conditions these children are living in,” said one SGA sponsored missionary. “They’re left without food and hungry.”
Founded by a Belarussian immigrant to the United States in 1934 and headquartered near Chicago, SGA focuses on “the power of prayer” to propel its ministry to families, widows, and orphans.
The ministry’s founder Rev. Peter Deyneka – known as “Peter Dynamite” because of his dynamic prayer life – challenged churches with the rallying cry “Much Prayer, Much Power,” the title of his 1958 book.
“Prayer is needed now more than ever before as the coronavirus places millions in Russia and neighboring countries in danger of hunger and even starvation,” said Johnson, inviting people to join the organization’s Crisis Prayer Team and get updates at www.sga.org/COVID.
Founded in 1934, Slavic Gospel Association (SGA, www.sga.org) helps “forgotten” orphans, widows and families in Russia, the former Soviet countries of Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and Russian-speaking immigrants in Israel – caring for their physical needs and sharing the life-transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ. SGA supports an extensive grassroots network of local evangelical missionary pastors and churches in cities and rural villages across this vast region.