Outreach Centers in Russia

The LCMS supports two outreach centers in Russia that provide pastoral care, counseling, financial assistance and other services to those in need.

For 20 years, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) has supported two outreach centers in Russia that provide a wide variety of services to people in need. Both centers are run in connection with a local Lutheran church. Clients who come seeking pastoral care, counseling, financial assistance or other resources also come into contact with the Gospel, often for the first time.

Hope Family Counseling Center

Hope Family Counseling Center, located in St. Petersburg, operates in partnership with St. Michael’s Lutheran Church (which is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria, an LCMS partner church). In 2023, the LCMS gave a grant of $23,838 to support the center’s outreach work.

The center proclaims the Gospel and performs mercy work by offering crisis pregnancy counseling and marital counseling, and by supporting pregnant and single mothers with clothing, food and medicine.

In recent years, the center has also reached many elderly women by offering computer classes.

These classes teach students how to use computers, tablets and smartphones. In addition to mastering basic computer skills, students learn how to use Bible apps and practice using Microsoft Word with passages of Scripture. The classes also set aside time for learning about the Bible and the Small Catechism.

Attendees of the computer classes often suffer from loneliness, strife in their families, illness and all the physical hardships of growing old. Taking a class provides a much-needed social event, and it also builds trust between the participants and members of St. Michael’s, opening up conversations about Christianity, sin and forgiveness, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Many of the women who first came into contact with Hope through these classes kept coming back because they were interested in Christianity. Sometimes, participants become members of St. Michael’s.

For example, Tatiana, a 77-year-old woman, started out as a student in the computer class, but after many conversations about Christianity, she went through confirmation and became a member at St. Michael’s. And 70-year-old Liudmila is another example. Once she learned to use a Bible app on her tablet, she became an avid reader of Scripture. Tatiana Riyumina, the director of the center and a member of St. Michael’s, reports that “our every meeting turns into a spiritual conversation, where this experienced and wise woman is open to asking her questions. We talk about current politics and her worries about the future. … We talk about God’s answer to our prayers, about death and our attitude towards it.”

Christian Counseling Center

Novosibirsk, Russia, the largest city in Siberia, is home to the Christian Counseling Center. In 2021, the LCMS gave $40,000 to support the center’s work. The war in Ukraine has prevented further financial support during the past three years.

The center operates as an outpost of St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church (a member of the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church, an LCMS partner church), which is located out in the suburbs. The center helps meet the needs of parishioners who live in the city, while also reaching out to unchurched people in the city and serving the poor and needy.

The center offers a variety of educational opportunities and social services, such as training programs for Christian doctors and medical workers that equip them to be evangelists in the health care field.

Alcoholism is a widespread, serious problem in Russia. The center hosts a variety of programs to help alcoholics and their families heal from addiction. A chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous meets here every Sunday evening. The center also sent its own deacon, the Rev. Dmitri Tuzov, to a nine-month training program on leading a Family Sobriety Club. (Family Sobriety Clubs are part of a national sobriety movement sponsored in part by the Russian Orthodox Church.)

Tuzov said the training program “was a very interesting experience, and very inspiring, because [it was] based on respect for man as God’s creation, and built on genuine brotherly love and hope for God’s help.”

Now that he has completed training, Tuzov is working to begin a Family Sobriety Club at the Christian Counseling Center. Tuzov will provide direct assistance and spiritual care to alcoholics and their families, and the club will host excursions, volunteer activities, weekend hikes and “sober kebabs” social events.

In addition to these social services, the Christian Counseling Center offers many educational opportunities. For instance, in partnership with the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Novosibirsk, the center held a lecture series on Lutheran architects and artists. Often, people come ready to discuss theology, but they are more hesitant to attend church services or don’t understand how to live as part of a church. The center offers the perfect environment for people to not only learn about Lutheranism, but also to build relationships and come to understand what it means to be part of the church.

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