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Unsung Heroes: Russian-Speaking Broadcasters Now Focus on Evangelizing Argentinians

March 20, 2015

Unsung Heroes: Russian-Speaking Broadcasters Now Focus on Evangelizing Argentinians

March 20, 2015
(March 20, 2015 - by Roger Reimer and Harold Goerzen)  After years of serving as Russian-language broadcasters at Radio Station HCJB in Quito, Ecuador, encouraging believers across the former Soviet Union during the Cold War era, a missionary couple has reinvented themselves. They’re now evangelizing and discipling Spanish-speaking people in their home country of Argentina and neighboring Chile.

“We both have Ukrainian parents,” says longtime Reach Beyond missionary Andrés Ralek. “I was born in Paraguay, and my wife, Elena, was born in Argentina. “Preaching the gospel in Russian [via shortwave] was a tremendous privilege as God touched millions of lives in the U.S.S.R through radio.”

When the Iron Curtain fell in the early 1990s, changing geopolitical landscapes began to emerge. So did media technologies, leading to new models of ministry and opening doors to share the gospel across Eurasia in different ways.

The Raleks read listener letters in Quito, Ecuador, during the Soviet era.As the need for shortwave radio in the region diminished, leading to the end of Russian broadcasts from HCJB’s international transmission site in Ecuador in 2003, the Raleks made the transition from Russian broadcasting to addressing the needs of people in their own context.

“Now we want to see the Hispanic church grow in every corner of South America, so we go teaching and preaching everywhere we can,” Andrés said.

Here are some ways they are ministering in Argentina and Chile:
• Evangelizing children and youth through camping experiences.
• Holding workshops for pastors and church leaders alongside Apoyo, Reach Beyond’s pastoral training and development ministry.
• Working with indigenous tribal groups in remote areas.
• Providing humanitarian help.
• Offering seminars in counseling for women with Aglow Ministries.
• Producing Spanish-language radio programs for local stations.
• Preaching and singing.

Andrés said he’s concerned about the shortage of trained pastors, especially in Argentina. “Young people are not interested in attending seminary when the remuneration for pastors will not be very good,” he explained. “So we’re given the challenge of equipping those who have pastoral potential with the basic tools for church ministries.”

“Our desire is to teach and prepare people for leadership positions,” Andrés added. “We are focusing on the northern provinces of Argentina now and always go to communities at the invitation or referral from someone in the community.”

With the help from San Andrés Presbyterian Church of Buenos Aires, the Raleks recently distributed several loads of shoes, clothes, school supplies, medicines and winter jackets for grateful recipients.

With financial help from local businessmen in Buenos Aires, the Raleks plan to visit some remote communities in Argentina’s sparsely populated Gran Chaco area in April. Many of the local villages have no safe drinking water, so plans are being made to install a clean water system in one of the communities.

“We’ll be using a variety of vehicles filled to the brim with supplies to travel over 1,200 km (720 miles),” Andrés said. “An optometrist and ophthalmologist couple will join us, offering eye exams and glasses at no cost.”

The Raleks are unsung heroes, following the example of Christ who taught by sending out His disciples two by two, preaching the gospel, caring for the sick and meeting the needs of the underserved.

Source: Reach Beyond