Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever. -Daniel 12:3
Name(s): John and Julie Gerig
Host Country: Russian Federation
In 1993, John and Julie sensed God was redirecting their lives, and they followed His leading. They arrived in Russia in 1994 where they worked with CoMission, an agency made up of a number of mission organizations helping Russian teachers learn how to teach religious knowledge classes to their students. This experience confirmed John and Julie's call to Russia. In 1995, they moved to St. Petersburg for language study and eventually teaching at St. Petersburg Christian University (SPCU).
John and Julie serve in St. Petersburg, Russia, a city of five million. The population is equal to the city of Chicago, although the circumference is much smaller because nearly everyone lives in large apartment buildings. They are as far north as Anchorage, AK, but our temperatures are somewhat moderate because we are on the Gulf of Finland. Economically, St. Petersburg is a city of contrasts with very wealthy people living among the poor. There is an emerging middle-class, but many must work hard and often have little job security.
Among young people there is a tendency toward despair. This in turn leads to crimes, alcohol, drugs, prostitution, pornography, and other problems. Since these young people are the future of Russia, John and Julie are working at St. Petersburg Christian University to equip the church to reach teenagers to give them hope and purpose in Jesus Christ.
John and Julie's goal is to reach the teens of Russia through the church. To achieve this goal, John serves in the following ways:
Training youth workers – John teaches fulltime at SPCU, mentors a small group of students specifically working with teenagers, and hosts a monthly training time called “Institute of Teen Ministries” where local church youth workers can come for inspiration and ideas.
Publishing materials for youth workers – John has been involved for several years in selecting helpful materials for youth workers and participating in the translation process.
Developing model programs for reaching teenagers – John works with the youth at the small Russian Baptist Church where the Gerig's attend and leads the board of the new Youth for Christ (YFC), St. Petersburg. Their focus is partnering with local churches to establish an effective, growing ministry to teenagers.
Julie’s ministry involves caring for their home and children, administrating the World Partners Russia field, and serving the International Christian School as staff recruiter and board member.
John grew up in a Christian home where family devotions were held at 7:00 a.m. daily. John’s grandmother held a Child Evangelism Good News Club in a nearby home, and this is where he asked Jesus to come into his life. He then reaffirmed that decision a few years later.
John enjoyed much contact with missionaries while growing up, through Missions Conferences, relatives, missionaries in their home, and mission trips to the Caribbean and Brazil.
John received a B.S. in Music Education from Ft. Wayne Bible College (now Taylor University) and also a M.A. in Music Education from Ball State University, Muncie, IN. He was assistant band director at Mt. Vernon Middle and High School, Fortville, IN before becoming a missionary.
Julie also grew up in a Christian home, where she was encouraged to participate in Christian activities and programs whenever possible. She accepted Jesus as her Savior at a young age, also at a Good News Club in her neighborhood.
Julie graduated from Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL with a B.S. in Music Education. While pursuing her degree, she attended an Urbana Missions Conference and became interested in Russia.
Intimacy with God that leads to integrity of character and direction in ministry
Wisdom in parenting and our children’s spiritual, mental, social, and emotional needs
A strong, happy, and mutually supportive marriage
The Lord will use our work to multiply His Kingdom far beyond what we could accomplish
Many youth workers will reach teens in the churches