By Kevin Ezell
Most Southern Baptists couldn’t imagine sharing space with five other churches in the same building, but that’s what Jan Vezikov’s church near Harvard University in Boston does each week. Jan—pronounced “Yahn”—is a NAMB missionary who has planted a church for Russian speaking young professionals in an area where property costs make it impossible for young churches to buy space.
Jan’s family of three—soon to be four—lives in a tiny apartment that doesn’t have its own parking spot, so Jan drops his family off after church each week and then drives a half mile away where he parks and walks back home.
Jan grew up in a bilingual home in Rhode Island where both Russian and English were spoken. For most of his life he planned a secular career, but God changed all that while he was attending Brown University, one of the Ivy League’s elite schools where the nation’s most gifted students compete for entry each year.
Now Jan has taken up a calling God first gave to his father to reach the first- and second-generation Russian-Americans of Boston. Each week, 50 to 60 gather for worship, Bible study and to be part of a community where they are loved, encouraged, accepted and challenged.
Jan is part of a new group of Southern Baptist church planters reaching out to the people of Boston and throughout New England. But the hurdles are many. Evangelicals make up only 2.5 percent of greater Boston, so the base to build on is small. Higher education is a religion for many people, and Master’s degrees and PhD’s seem as common here as high school diplomas are in most of the United States.
We need more people like Jan who are willing to step out in faith and come to the hard places to start churches that will make new disciples for Christ. We also need more churches like yours and more volunteers like you who will help support and be a part of the evangelistic church planting process in places like Boston.
As this issue of On Mission focuses on the importance of the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, I want to express my deep gratitude to every individual and church that gives to the offering. Every dime of the Annie offering goes directly to support our missionaries.
I am excited about NAMB’s new strategy that will mobilize thousands of churches to become part of an effort to send church planters like Jan to areas like Boston. Along the way we will help equip those churches with what they need to get the job done. And we plan to approach our work on a regional level that will allow for the unique realities of our vast continent to inform how we do our work.
If you’re not already, I hope you and your church will become involved in evangelistic church planting throughout North America. There is a role for everyone to play and we will be happy to help you each step of the way through that process.
Working together under God’s direction and blessing, I know we can help thousands of church planting missionaries like Jan who have a heart for evangelizing even the hard to reach places of our land.
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC