Left Behind Game’s Eastern European Charity Tie-In

ASSIST Ministries reports on a charity tie-in from the controversial Left Behind: Eternal Forces video game:

Left Behind Games, the company that produces Christian video games based on the books made famous by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, is including an insert in every box that tells purchasers about the Eastern European Outreach (EEO) child sponsorship program.

The game makers latest release, “Left Behind: Eternal Forces” is flying off store shelves, and Jeff Thompson, EEO Executive Director, expects that 200,000 families will learn about the EEO ministry to at-risk children as a result of the inserts.

Left Behind Games CEO Troy Lyndon heard about EEO, and along with his wife, Robilyn, decided they wanted to raise awareness about the plight of at-risk children in Russia and Ukraine by including the inserts in the game package. The company has a game programming team in Ukraine, so they have firsthand knowledge of the needs there.

The insert itself can be seen at Joystiq.

EEO is an outreach of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta, California. EEO executive director Jeff Thompson gives some background on his organisation’s website:

A wide door opened for us into Russian prisons and I have now personally ministered in over 75 prisons inside Russia and our teams continue to preach the gospel there. We are blessed and excited to serve the Lord through ministries of compassion for the “children at risk” in the former Soviet Union; we sponsor 100 indigenous pastors with Christian libraries to Russian prisons and public schools; 1500 children are sponsored by EEO Child sponsors in Ukraine and Kosovo; 6 different two week bible camps were sponsored for 1200 children (all expenses paid) for underprivileged children from the Chernobyl area of Ukraine and in war torn Kosovo; approximately 80,000 Bibles and Christian books are distributed each year by EEO teams and indigenous missionaries.

One Ukrainian church that is “partnered” with EEO is Christian Hope Church in Kiev, founded by Pastor Valeriy Reshetinsky. EEO has reposted a profile on him from Charisma magazine:

…Many of us in the West haven’t noticed this quiet miracle. But while church growth has been stagnant in the United States in recent years, Ukraine’s churches have grown up to 20 percent per year since 1993. Currently the growth rate is estimated to be 10 percent annually… Reshetinski believes that God has given Ukraine a 15-year window of opportunity. If the church doesn’t seize the moment, he fears that Islam will fill the vacuum.

…Christian Hope Church currently operates 30 ministries that touch the needs of Ukrainians—including orphans, drug addicts and the blind. But because Reshetinski is a scientist at heart, he also wants to change the Soviet intellect. Schools in Russia and Ukraine are still atheistic. Christian Hope is working with Americans to establish an institute of scientific creationism in Kiev. “Our No. 1 job must be to change the worldview of the people here and apply Christianity to economics, law and education…Please don’t allow the United States to become like Western Europe. Don’t allow it to become secular. I was so surprised to learn that until 1949 Christians had their hands in education in your country. But [John Dewey] took faith out of education. The church in your country has so many spiritual resources. Please keep America a Christian nation.”

The special emphasis on prisons is especially interesting, and some time ago I noted how Russian prisoners were enjoying the televised ministrations of Jan and Paul Crouch. A separate ministry, International Prison Ministry, adds that “As with Eastern European Outreach, the government has become a vital ministry partner”. However, recent events are less encouraging for the EEO: in July, an EEO team was denied entry into Russia.

EEO in the Ukraine also emphases faith over medicine, as an anecdote from missionaries Tom and Melody Monk testifies:

A young teenage girl, Anya, came to our camp last year. She learned so much from the Bible Studies and was especially touched as we studied the miracles of Jesus. She suffered from severe Psoriasis and was ashamed to come to camp. After going home and sharing the camp experiences with her mother, they began to pray for her healing. The mother began attending church with Anya and one day went forward to pray for her daughter. She was convicted that she had been putting more faith in the physicians of man than God. She repented and asked Jesus to be her Savior and Lord. Soon Anya’s skin began to heal and now she is totally free from psoriasis. After this, Anya’s father read his wife’s journal. There, he discovered how she wished he would love her as “Christ loves the church”. Rather than get angry, he began going to church with his wife and daughter. Hearing the word preached, he surprised them one day by going forward to except Christ as his Savior. The whole family received Water Baptism this past Easter! Anya is looking forward to sharing in the summer camps, all that God has done to make her family one, in Christ.

I’ve looked at some of Calvary Chapel’s other missionary activities (both targeting vulnerable children) previously: see here and here. The grouping is headed by Chuck Smith, who shares the “pre-tribulation rapture” theology of the Left Behind books and game.