Stewardship Partnership Spans the Globe
By Michael Cherenkov and Jon C Wiebe
In 2018 MB Foundation released a resource to inspire generosity among the MB family as part of its Championing Biblical Stewardship efforts. The Seven-Day Generosity Challengewas developed as a resource for churches and small groups to encourage a life of joyful, Christ-centered generosity. This resource was first compiled by The Global Generosity Network who subsequently gave permission to MB Foundation to customize the resource for its use. After some significant editing, it was put into production.
The impact of the devotional has grown far beyond the initial purposes and our continental boarders.
An unexpected development happened when MB Foundation partnered with Mission Eurasia for the Russian translation. Mission Eurasia is an international agency focused on training and mobilizing Christian leaders in the countries of Eurasia and Israel. Their president, Sergey Rakhuba, not only provided the translated material, but recognized the value of its teachings in their ministry. With our enthusiastic support, they began using it in 65 training locations in 14 countries of Eurasia.
According to Michael Cherenkov, Executive Field Director, “when Jon Wiebe released the 7-Day Generosity Challenge as a resource for friends and partners of MB Foundation little did he know that very soon the resource would be in a great demand and very popular on the vast territories of far-off Eurasia. And now people read it in Russian, Ukrainian and even Georgian! This book has already been reprinted three times in Eurasia with a total of 10,000 copies.”
Mission Eurasia became a partner in distributing this resource.
Michael Cherenkov shares, “We had been thinking about the importance of this topic in the churches of Eurasia for a long time. When I read this book in 2018 I knew right then that we had to translate it and publish for our partner churches in Ukraine. The book was a simple, clear and inspiring invitation to be generous and I wanted to pass on that message as far as possible to change both the mentality and daily ministry practices.”
The first recipients of this manual were 11 MB churches and it was like a breath of fresh air to them. MB churches in Ukraine are young and small. On one hand, they are constantly faced with a lack of resources. On the other hand, they are actively involved in many ministries and are very open to fresh ideas. They were very happy to implement the idea of generosity and make it a foundation for their ministry practices. They took the challenge, and generosity became their daily practice.
Roman Rakhuba, leader of MB churches in Ukraine also teaches at School Without Walls (SWW), a specially designed program for young leaders of Mission Eurasia. He shared this resource and his experience of using these ideas in practice with others. So, 7-Day Generosity Challenge became part of SWW curriculum in 14 countries of former Soviet Union. Thousands of young leaders can read the book, download electronic versions and even see these lessons in video format. As Mission Eurasia built on the idea of the “generosity challenge” they started their TV program called, Time to Be Generous.
As it is known, 70 years of soviet regime taught people to keep the mentality of scarcity which also affected the church. Today, the topic of generosity helps to repair the defects in theology and practical church ministry and also unlock the potential of the church for a more active and effective ministry. And in this regard, the legacy and experience of MB churches is valuable and relevant for the sister churches in Ukraine and other countries of Eurasia.
Mission Eurasia has received stories and testimonies of the 7-Day Generosity devotional’s impact for individual studies, home groups, and churches.
Denis Gorenkov, Mission Eurasia, Ukraine
“I believe that 7-Day Generosity Challenge is an amazingly holistic material whereas it was written by people from different cultures and different Christian communities. But they managed to create a deep yet quite simple for perceiving material with universal message. I have witnessed how this message was received by young leaders in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Caucasus and Russia… They live and serve in different countries and contexts and that is why, the strong side of this books being universal and holistic helped our leaders grasp it and live it out.”
Aleksei Yuditsenko, Heart for Christ MB Church pastor, Berdyansk, Ukraine
“I found 7-Day Generosity Challenge very compelling and encouraging. I loved the biblical view on finances, and generosity in general. I feel like I was already living that life of generosity but when you serve people all the time and give, you need to receive as well. And I received an encouraging message from the book. God spoke to me and helped me understand the depth of why I serve others; ultimately it’s all from Him and for Him.
I have used the material of the book in my sermon and was planning to study it in our home groups but that was when our country announced a lockdown. So, as soon as we are able to meet in groups we’ll go through 7-Day Generosity Challenge as a church in our small groups. This book is a great tool to study in groups!”
Sergei Ryadnov, Light to the World MB Church, Novomoskovsk, Ukraine
“To me personally the book has been a great resource. It helped me to have a broader and better understanding of generosity and live it out in my personal life and ministry. Also, there were many helpful ideas there that I now teach in my church.”
Igor Syrbu, church pastor, Chisinau, Moldova
“When I heard about 7-Day Generosity Challenge at one of the meetings that was organized by Mission Eurasia I was very impressed and thought, “This is exactly what people in our church need to hear!” I am a church pastor and also a home group leader. So I always look for useful and interesting material to share with people. And 7-Day Generosity Challenge was an answer to that quest. We started studying the material in our home groups and preach on generosity at our church. The material resonated with my heart and helped me personally to be more deliberate and disciplined with generosity. I have always admired the people who were generous and served with whatever opportunities they had to be a blessing to others. So I tried to convey that message to the people in my home group. People in our Church without Walls have always been generous in supporting local ministries as well as missionaries in Central Asia. So, 7-Day Generosity Challenge course helped us cultivate that mindset and conscious culture of generosity. As a family, apart from tithing, we also started to set aside a certain fixed amount of money for people in need. And recently I started to think how to plan and do it more strategically: how I can financially support a project, especially now, in time of crisis and pandemic. So, our journey of cultivating the culture of generosity continues and I see how God blesses us and invites us to grow in this discipline.”
Sergei Semenov, Zaporozhye, Ukraine
“I was part of a webinar recently that was led by Jon Wiebe where we talked about generosity and how we can be giving people in the modern world. I was so impressed by the webinar that I read the book 7-Day Generosity Challenge right away. I was very inspired by some ideas and now do my best to live them out. Here are some of the messages from the book that were a big revelation for me, and inspired to live a more generous life: generosity is an outcome of a deep relationship with God; when we don’t walk closely with the Lord we lose the ability to be sensitive and live a generous life; generosity is a reflection of God’s nature in us; every person is not an owner of all they possess, rather, a steward. I am a youth leader at my church and want to share these ideas with young people who come to our church. I believe the Lord will give us strength to live out these ideas and we can glorify Him through our generosity.”
Pavel Tokarchuk, Mission Eurasia, Russia
The initiative to talk about generosity, sacrifice, and biblical view on stewardship is very timely and is now discussed at seminars, presentations and printed resources. We are grateful to our partners for making this resource available for our evangelical churches, pastors and leaders. We hope that as we promote this course and its ideas it will help Christians to look at generosity in a new way and help for spreading the gospel and for the churches to grow different ministries. Our hope is that as we distribute these books it will be helpful to many churches in taking care of financial needs of the church, missions and grow in other ways of giving. Some leaders use this material in their small groups, in seminars at Christian conferences and meetings with Christian businessmen.”
Mariana Vakula, Kharkiv, Ukraine
“7-Day Generosity Challenge is an unusual book. It’s not the type of book that you read and quickly forget. This book inspires, challenges and changes you. God’s Word accompanied by the writers’ life stories is not dry theory. Because of the challenges at the end of each chapter, the biblical principles of generosity get implemented in our everyday lives. I am grateful to God and everyone who participated in making this valuable book possible. I am planning to use it in our ladies’ groups.”
Mission Eurasia also developed different resources to complement the devotional:
1) Digital devotional books
2) Nearing completion on videos for each lesson. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLWyZbGfBEUSCjkC6iR83f6JIlmk_yW4XW
3) Devotionals are also in the final stages of being recorded as audiobooks.
“Only God could take a resource for our U.S. Mennonite Brethren constituency, with a distribution of 3,935 in the U.S. (194 Spanish, 2,727 English and 1,014 in Russian), and use it across the former Soviet Union to encourage our Mennonite Brethren churches in Ukraine and as a resource for the Christian church at large,” says Jon C. Wiebe, MB Foundation President & CEO.