Throughout time, God has often placed certain men and women into key positions in order to change the course of history. There are numerous examples in the Bible where God used various individuals to bring about His salvation. In the Biblical book of Esther, God used Esther to intercede for and save the Jews. In modern times, God has often used the most unlikely men and women to be instrumental to His redemptive plan.
Founding of Mission Partners International
In 1989, Pastor Ron Garrison was the pastor of a small church in London, Ontario called ‘Evangel City Church’. Ron was approached by a Ukrainian Pastor living in London named John Zinchyk and asked to sponsor Christian families fleeing from the USSR to immigrate to Canada. Despite several larger churches refusing to help, Ron and the other leaders in his church agreed to assist, feeling that God was calling them “for such a time as this”. Ron didn’t know it at the time but God was leading him on the first steps into a whole new ministry.
In the summer of 1991, Ron was invited to visit the USSR on a ‘tourist visa’ and to secretly meet with believers in the Soviet Republics of East-Central Europe. He was smuggled from city to city and from one secret prayer meeting to the next. Those prayer meetings had one focus: opening the Soviet Union for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, ending the heavy persecution of Christianity under Soviet communist rule.
Ron found out later that, while those believers were meeting and praying for the future of their nations, a group of high ranking soviet hardliners had staged a coup in order to fully restore the power of the weakening atheistic Soviet government. By God’s providence, the coup failed and within just a few months the ‘Union of Soviet Socialist Republics’ had officially disintegrated.
In January of 1992, Ron traveled a second time to East-Central Europe and met with many of the same Christian leaders and believers as before. As they traveled and ministered, God gave Ron a special insight into the spiritual struggle taking place in Eastern Europe and began calling him towards a new direction in ministry. After the trip was over, God continued to move Ron’s heart about the future of the people in the now post-Soviet Republics.
After 19 years in pastoral ministry in Ontario, Ron, and his wife Heather, together felt that God was calling them to a new ministry in Eastern Europe. Building on the new relationships and open doors overseas, they resigned from pastoral ministry and formed a new organization called Mission Partners International (MPI).
Early History – Working out of Moscow
In partnership with several key Christian leaders in the former Soviet Union, Ron began traveling and preaching overseas while also speaking at hundreds of churches in Canada. The Christian message was quickly taking root and spreading exponentially throughout Eastern Europe. It soon became apparent that thousands of new churches would need to be planted to facilitate the abundant harvest of people who were coming to faith.
With the generous support of countless Canadians, MPI was able raise the funds to help plant dozens of new churches including purchasing church buildings. MPI was instrumental in the purchase and distribution of over 300 communion sets to churches across the region. We were able to provide countless pieces of equipment such as A/V equipment and musical instruments to dozens of new churches.
With the goal of ministering to both physical and spiritual poverty, MPI began to organize visits to children and staff in state run schools and orphanages. MPI was able to organize many short term mission teams to travel and minister overseas. We were blessed with incredible access to numerous state institutions.
Narrowing Focus to Ukraine and Belarus.
In 1999, Ron and Heather began working with a Pastor in Kiev named Valery Reshetinsky. New doors were opening in Ukraine for humanitarian and Gospel outreaches. MPI began partnering with Pastor Valery’s church, Christian Hope Church (CHC), to launch new ministry outreaches to seniors, orphans and drug addicts.
MPI supported volunteers, led by a doctor named Irina, who began a ministry that delivered food while sharing the Gospel message to seniors. MPI continued to organize many short term mission teams to renovate orphanages, and love and care for orphans. MPI was able to fund many projects to help drug rehab centres in both Russia and Ukraine. We were able to help raise funds to purchase a half constructed sports complex to turn into a new home for CHC.
MPI was able to hire a young Belarusian Bible school graduate living in Kiev, named Andrei Shander, to coordinate our ministry efforts overseas and translate for any Canadians who visited. Through Andrei’s contacts in his home city of Minsk, MPI met and began supporting a young Christian man who was launching a Christian camping ministry for children and youth.
Today, MPI is partnering with Christian Hope Church and other churches in the Ukrainian Missionary Church Union (a group of Ukrainian Evangelical churches) to reach children, seniors, and families with the Gospel. We regularly give out numerous food parcels from our food Bank, provide food and accommodation for a Seniors Respite Centre, and support a Christian children’s camp. MPI also supports Pastors and leaders from across Ukraine by hosting an annual Pastors leadership conference, supplying resource materials, and supporting Pastors with a regular financial supplement.
In the wake of the political crisis which began in 2014 in Ukraine, MPI has been on the ground ministering to people in the Lugansk region (Eastern Ukraine) and Crimea. From providing blankets in the winter, to funding soup kitchens to feed starving people, MPI has continued to meet as many needs as possible.
Once again, God has placed Mission Partners at a critical juncture in history. While the world is facing a growing confrontation between east and west, MPI is ministering to people in need. Together with our partners, we are ready to be used by God to accomplish His saving work.