Slavic Gospel Association was founded in 1934 by Rev. Peter Deyneka, who in 1914 at the age of 15 had immigrated to the United States from the former Soviet republic of Belarus. A few years later, Rev. Deyneka repented of his sins and trusted in Christ as Savior during a worship service at Chicago’s renowned Moody Memorial Church, which was pastored at the time by Dr. Paul Rader.
After his salvation and graduation from St. Paul Bible School in Minnesota, Peter eventually returned to Chicago with an overwhelming burden to see his people won to Christ. In 1925, he went back to his homeland and traveled extensively, sharing the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ. While there, he established a strong, enduring relationship with the faithful churches of the Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists (UECB), one of the largest and oldest Protestant denominations. But in the early 1930s, Stalin intensified persecution of the churches and it became no longer possible for Peter to travel to his homeland. Convinced that there were ways to help the churches from here, he and a small group of Chicago-area businessmen founded what later came to be known as the Slavic Gospel Association, in the back room of Hedstrom’s Shoe Store.
For many decades, SGA covertly distributed millions of Bibles and Christian books under the Iron Curtain into the hands of believers throughout the Soviet Union, while producing and broadcasting thousands of Christian radio programs over the Iron Curtain. The first Russian language Bible institutes in the world were established to train the Russian immigrants in Toronto, Canada; Temperley, Argentina; and other parts of the world. The mission also had an extensive ministry to Russian-speaking refugees and immigrants living in various countries throughout the world.
Throughout the Cold War era, SGA founder, Peter Deyneka, Sr. traveled the globe holding prayer meetings, often all night prayer meetings, encouraging the Lord’s people to pray for the opening of the Soviet Union for the preaching of the Gospel. His motto became…
His powerful preaching gave him the nickname, “Peter Dynamite.” Having poured out his life in service to the Lord, the Lord called him to his heavenly reward in 1987. Then, in 1989 the Lord answered Peter’s prayers of a lifetime, dramatically surprised the entire world, and brought the Iron Curtain crashing down. SGA leaders and missionaries immediately began to seize the unprecedented new opportunities for reaching the 300 million people of the former USSR for the glory of Christ.
Over the fifteen years that have passed, SGA partners have enabled the training of several thousand pastors, church planters and church workers, as well as the planting of several thousand new churches in what is now known as the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Our main purpose is to help Bible-preaching churches in these lands of Russia make disciples for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We serve in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and Armenia. We serve the churches in these nations primarily through the provision of Russian-language Bibles and Christian literature, through solid Bible training for pastors, church planters and church workers, through the sponsorship of church-planting missionaries, and through the provision of humanitarian aid.
Our mission has grown to become an international ministry with autonomous offices in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and England. We operate three regional ministry centers in the CIS, which are entirely staffed by nationals, as well as an office staffed by nationals at the headquarters of the Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists of Russia in Moscow. Since 1997, SGA has been privileged to serve as the official representative of the Russian UECB in North America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
The Slavic people groups can be found largely in Central and Eastern Europe, from the German border to the Ural Mountains in the east and throughout the regions of Siberia and the Russian Far East. These groups include the Russians, Ukrainians, Belarussians, Bulgarians, Poles, Czechs, Slovaks and Serbians. With some exceptions, they largely use the Cyrillic alphabet instead of the Latin alphabet used here in the West, and their languages have many similarities.
The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is the official name which describes a loose confederation of twelve of the fifteen countries which formerly made up the Soviet Union. These countries include Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. The Baltic nations of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia opted not to join the CIS when the Soviet Union broke up in 1991.
The UECB was formed in 1867. Today, it is one of the largest and oldest Protestant denominations in the lands of Russia. As the name implies, its members are repentant, baptized believers in Jesus Christ as the only source of salvation through faith. There are more than 5,000 UECB churches across the CIS. Pastor Yuri Sipko serves as the president of the Russian UECB.
SGA formerly sent missionaries from here in North America to train and evangelize Russian-speaking people residing in the nations of the free world. Today, our focus is to sponsor national evangelical church planters who are sent by their own churches to unreached communities in the CIS. These church planters know the language, history, culture and other important dynamics of ministry to their people. The sponsoring of national evangelist-church planters is also the most cost-effective way to bring the Gospel into areas where no organized evangelical witness exists. At the request of UECB church leaders, our mission does send carefully selected North American pastors and Bible teachers on short-term teaching assignments to train pastoral students at SGA-sponsored Bible institutes and seminaries in the lands of Russia. These intensive sessions normally run for a 1-2 weeks at a time, and are of great value both to Russian pastors who lacked the opportunity to receive solid Bible teaching during the communist years, and to more recent disciples whom the Lord has set apart for leadership.
SGA is an interdenominational evangelical missions organization. We serve Bible-believing churches that are independent, as well as those affiliated with conservative denominations or fellowships. We are also members of the Interdenominational Foreign Missions Association and the Canadian Council for Christian Charities.
Though SGA is involved in supporting orphan ministries and orphanages in the lands of Russia, SGA does not assist in the adoption of children from the CIS.