"It was my first experience of this kind and one which will have a lasting impact in my life."
Rob M. - Ignite Participant
Rob M. - Ignite Participant
Moscow / St. Petersburg / Sochi / Beslan
What an incredible experience to stand in Red Square, tour the Kremlin and see the remaining structures that represent the overwhelming power and domination of the former Soviet empire. The opulence of the buildings constructed by its past leaders is quite a contrast relative to the economic strain that much of the rest of the country lived under. Ignite International traveled to Russia in 2005, 2006 and 2008 and has used sport to touch lives in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Vladikavkaz and Sochi. There is no city on earth that has captivated our heart like Beslan. For that reason, to honor those who have endured and to show our respect in a tangible way, Beslan has its own page on our website. We ask you to continue to pray for those who survived.
Through games such as basketball and a very weak attempt by our group at soccer, we were able to easily connect with the kids at two orphanages in Moscow. In doing so, we encouraged them to find hope in our “head coach” through His son. Incidentally, at one of the orphanages, our team was the first adults to ever visit those boys and play with them – they are teenagers!! Our hope is that the seeds that Ignite planted will serve as a reminder that Someone cares.
In 2006, we met a group of approximately 20 “street kids” in St. Petersburg – teenagers who, as the name suggests, live on the streets and have no home. Sniffing glue for the high and stealing food for survival are a normal part of the everyday experience for them. Our partner organization, Children’s Ministry International, reaches out to these teens on a regular basis, and it was a privilege to spend a few hours with them. In the time we had, we built a rapport through competition which, in turn, opened the door to share a message of Hope. A 16-year old young man named Sergei received Salvation. His unique story has been shared with most Ignite teams since that day! At least one soul will be in Heaven because of Dodgeball.
Our team also spoke at seminars in St. Petersburg and Sochi to help train young adult leaders within a local congregation to utilize the universal language of sport as a tool for outreach. Many Russian Believers ascribe to the premise that it is wrong to combine sports and religious conversation. Yet global statistics reflect that more than 90% of people in the total world population participate in some kind of sport at some level. To connect with people at such a relevant place is critical in reaching the next generation.
Many of the families from Beslan escape to Sochi in the summer for rest and refreshment, and our mission was to equip those leaders who would work with the kids whose city had been devastated by the terrorist attack eight months prior. For two days, Ignite leaders taught the value and provided tools to use sports in outreach, how to put together a program, how to effectively use games to open the door for sharing principles. At the conclusion, our class implemented the instruction we had given them in a program at a local park. We were thrilled to see them apply the seminar material successfully. As a result, they were able to begin great relationships with about 30 kids at the park, and they made plans to return for more the following Sunday evening.
Thanks to the opportunity provided by Children’s Ministry International and the practical, hands-on, relevant information shared by Ignite International, youth leaders in both St. Petersburg and Sochi are equipped, prepared, and empowered to reach others through sport!
Click on either photo below to learn more about Beslan
September 1-3, 2004