Spiritual Growth Activities in the Euro-Asia Division

The Euro-Asia Division (ESD) covers a very multicultural area in the world including the territories of Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan, where Christianity has even been outlawed for periods of time and where even today people still die for their faith in Jesus. Yet, the Gospel has prevailed and permeated many hearts - changing lives forever. In Psalms 119:105 KJV, we read, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” How do Adventist church members in the ESD grow spiritually? Let's explore together if they are taking these Bible words to heart?

Blog September 15, 2021

The Euro-Asia Division, including the territories of Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan, covers a multicultural area in the world. In some of these countries, Christianity has even been outlawed for periods of time. Even today, many of these countries have just a handful of Christians. Yet, the good news of the Gospel has penetrated through these barriers, permeating the hearts of many and changing their lives forever.

Division Information

The 2017-18 Global Church Member Survey (2017-18 GCMS), conducted on behalf of the Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research, collected data from the Euro-Asia Division (ESD). This Division includes the Ukrainian and West Russian Union Conferences; the Caucasus, East Russian, and Southern Union Missions; the Belarus and Moldova Union of Churches Conferences; the Far Eastern Union of Churches Mission; the Crimea Mission; and the Armenian and Georgian Fields. Data was collected by researchers Petr Činčala, Pavel Zubkov, Dmitry Fokin, and Shannon Trecartin. A total of 2,251 church members were surveyed in all ESD Unions. The participants’ ages ranged from 15 to 97 years old. Two-thirds (68%) were 41 years and older, and all education levels from incomplete high school education and less to graduate school were represented. Interestingly, one in five (20%) respondents reported having some form of disability or multiple disabilities, and 1% reported being Deaf.

Personal Prayer

The 2017-18 GCMS determined that many ESD members considered prayer a part of their daily lives. When asked how often they prayed, a vast majority (91%) of members reported that they had personal prayer daily or more than once a day. Another 7% reported that they engaged in personal prayer more than once a week. It is clear that members in the ESD have taken 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to heart: “Pray without ceasing.”

Devotional Activities

Members in the ESD were also asked how often they engaged in spiritual growth activities such as reading the Bible and having personal devotions. Over half (55%) of the respondents reported that they read their Bible every day. Interestingly, older members were more likely than younger members to read their Bible on a daily basis.

ESD members reported engaging in personal devotions more frequently than reading their Bible, which is interesting considering that all devotions are based on biblical concepts and verses. Nearly nine out of ten (87%) of the respondents reported having personal devotions on a daily basis, and another 10% did so more than once a week. Thus, this data shows that members in the ESD were more likely to use personal devotions or devotional materials than the Bible itself to grow their spiritual lives.

Participating in Communion

Many Adventist churches take communion every three months (once a quarter). Thus, it is encouraging that 88% of ESD respondents reported that in the last year, they took communion once a quarter. Another 9% took communion more often, which was likely related to their church’s preference to practice communion more frequently than once a quarter. Only a handful of respondents reported that they took communion once or twice, or even never, in the last year.

Applying Ellen G. White’s Writings to Daily Life

Finally, ESD survey respondents were asked how strongly they agreed with the statement, “I apply Ellen G. White’s writings to my daily life.” Nearly one in five (18%) strongly agreed with the statement, indicating that they applied Ellen G. White’s (EGW) writings to their lives frequently. Another three in five (60%) agreed with the statement. However, 18% admitted they are not sure how well they applied EGW’s writings to their lives, and a small percentage shared that they did not apply her writings at all. (It should be noted that particular EGW writings or teachings were not specified—only her writings as a whole.)

It is encouraging to see that a majority of church members in the ESD said they applied what they learned from EGW’s writings, from the Bible, from Sabbath School lessons, or on Sabbath. Of course, it would be desirable to increase the “strongly agree” responses in all of these areas, as well as the number of young members reading the Bible daily. 

Thus, the research showed that in spite of the hostility to Christianity found in the ESD territory, many members reported that they engaged in activities that grow their spiritual lives and bring them closer to Jesus. The faithfulness of these Adventists should be an encouragement and inspiration to Adventists worldwide.

“Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Tim. 4:16 KJV).

To learn more about the ESD, visit this site: https://esd.adventist.org or adventiststatistics.org

For more research findings regarding the ESD, please see ESD GCMS Division Report.

If you are interested in research findings on the total sample, please see the Meta-Analysis Report

Created in collaboration with the Institute of Church Ministry.

Published by ASTR on 9-15-2021.