Accept the Unexpected

Tags: Canada, Russia, Story

Renata grew up in British Columbia, and regularly attended church where she had many opportunities to meet missionaries and to hear their stories. At the young age of 12, Renata responded to an invitation to commit herself to full-time missionary service. While she was willing to dedicate her life to serving God overseas, she probably did not fully understand all that this would mean for her. Though the journey was long, from the time Renata made the commitment until she actually arrived in Krasnoyarsk, Russia (16 years later), she never wavered on her life’s calling.

Unexpected News

Photo of Russia

Renata delved into Russian studies and got involved in working with orphans. She was enjoying this rewarding ministry when she was informed that, for various reasons, SEND was concluding ministry in Krasnoyarsk. It seemed that others on the team were aware of this but the news did not get to Renata, which made it difficult to comprehend as it was so unexpected. So where was God leading Renata next? She felt called to Siberia but when she talked with people she heard a variety of responses, some saying, “Yes, come.” others saying, “We need people who will share specifically with the Buryats.” Renata believed God was leading her to Ulan Ude, Siberia. God opened the door there. Through this huge change, Renata discovered that when God calls to a new location He also changes your heart to make the transition to the new ministry, new location and new teammates, etc. In addition to this, God, over time, also gave Renata a love for the Buryat people to whom she ministers.

Unexpected Ministry


In Russia, Renata had been involved in music and children’s ministry and expected to do the same in Ulan Ude. However, Transformation Church, where she decided to serve, already had good leadership in the children’s department, so Renata was asked to be involved in youth ministry. She had never considered ministry to young people before but unexpectedly has come to find this very rewarding and has found her niche. The group she works with are 10 to 15 years old, they meet weekly. Since the young people come right from school food is often served, they also play games and do a Bible lesson. Renata wants the group to be a safe place for them to get to know God, talk about issues young people face and grow in their faith. Through this unexpected change of location and ministry, Renata learned that one should not be afraid of change, it can be a huge blessing in disguise. Another valuable lesson Renata has learned, is that God changes things up so one does not depend on themselves or their own skills and experience, but leans totally on God for enabling and fruit from their ministry.

Returning Home

Renata was recently on an abbreviated home service and has now returned home and is involved in youth ministry. Pray that God would use her to spiritually strengthen the young people and that others would come into a personal relationship with Jesus. Also, pray for God to raise up people to take the leadership of this ministry. Shortly before departing for Russia the first time, Renata wondered what she had gotten herself into. A dear friend encouraged her with these words. “God will give grace in the moment, not before you need it and not after.” During her 12 years of ministry Renata has discovered God’s grace to be what she has needed as she has learn to accept the unexpected!

Watch video series "Reaching Russia Together".

Discover Ministry Opportunities.

Learn about SEND ministry in Russia.

Read another story about Renata - "Learning More Than the Language".

Merla Gogel serves as a mobilizer for SEND Canada. She served in Japan for 12.5 years as a church planter and now serves in the Canadian office.

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