Rev. Sergei Sosedkin, ministry leader of Russian outreach for Back to God Ministries International, says he is amazed by the generous support that Christian Reformed Church members give to the work of the church through ministry shares—a method of funding denominationwide ministries by assessing an amount per adult church member.
“So many committed people in the CRC give so willingly,” he says. “In Russia, for various reasons, it is difficult for churches to give money to support other ministries.
“CRC members have no idea how their love and generosity is affecting people around the world when they put their checks in the collection plate.”
When he is not in Russia or at the BTGMI office, Sosedkin frequently preaches in CRC congregations, describing the ministry as well as thanking them for their willingness to participate in the ministry shares program.
About 40 percent of BTGMI’s ministry budget comes from the ministry shares program, which has been a godsend during a depressed economy when other types of giving are scaled back, Sosedkin said.
“Ministry shares are extremely helpful. [They are] a blessing. Every CRC member can be assured that each dollar they give is making an impact.”
Having grown up in the former Soviet Union, Sosedkin had no concept of tithing when he was young. In fact, he had a hard time finding a Bible, let alone a church. “I grew up in a family of nonbelievers,” he said. “Almost everyone around me, except my grandmother, was a profound atheist.”
He said he tried to pray like his grandmother when he was 6 years old and started listening to Christian radio programs when he was 14 or 15. One program that influenced him deeply was The Back to God Hour, the flagship program of Back to God Ministries International.
“By listening to The Back to God Hour, I learned that it was God who created me,” he said. He eventually came to the United States to attend Reformed Bible College and then Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Mich. In 2001 Sosedkin became ministry leader of the BTGMI Russian media outreach, for which he records two radio programs and oversees the production of four additional radio programs, plus numerous specials. He also manages an interactive website, a growing text-message ministry, and the distribution of print materials in collaboration with Christian partner ministries.
Sosedkin’s radio messages are broadcast over stations reaching across Europe, Central Asia, and North America. They are also published in various Russian Christian magazines and newspapers.
The ministry shares program raises about $25 million a year to help support CRC ministries in North America and around the world. Congregations are asked to contribute to ministry shares based on the number of active adult members in each church.
A key attribute of the ministry shares program is that there is almost no overhead cost. To raise the same amount of money through fundraising campaigns would require spending several million dollars a year—money that, thanks to ministry shares, the CRC can spend on ministry programs instead.
To learn more about the ministry shares program, search for “ministry shares” at www.crcna.org.
To learn about the CRC’s response to flooding in the Philippines and disasters elsewhere in Asia, visit www.crcna.org, and click on Newsroom under News/Events.