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Russian Coaches are Ready for Spiritual Transformation

Published on July 30, 2020

Sarah Rennicke

St. Petersburg Area Director Stanislav Agafonov has a desire to see his country transformed by Christ through coaches and athletes. Evidence of God’s movement in Russia is springing up through personal connection in ways that have never been experienced before. With new virtual ways of meeting, coaches who may not have otherwise been reached are clamoring for more physical, emotional and spiritual maturity in the athletic realm. One coach in particular has latched on to 3Dimensional Coaching and is on her own journey to faith.

Agafonov’s wife Ilena attended a coaches retreat where she met a female fencing coach who worked in a central region of Russia. The two struck up a conversation and built a camaraderie throughout the retreat.

Agafonov set up a 3D Coaches Webinar with 3Dimensional Coaching trainer Mark Hull and other presenters in mid-May. Ilena sent an invite to all her contacts, one of which was the fencing coach. She replied with an enthusiastic yes to join the conference, and when it was finished, reached out to Agafornov to go through the entire 3D Coaching training.

“I told her, ‘You must understand, we are offering the Christian version of this training,’” said Agafonov. She said she knew that since she was on the webinar. She had never heard of the 3D Coaching method before, but really enjoyed it and said it touched her heart.”

Agafornov set her up with the course codes and materials and saw shortly after that she had enthusiastically posted on her Instagram account about how the 3D call really impacted her heart and she wants to know more.

This coach’s desire to delve into the three levels of coaching--body, mind and spirit--is taking her on a course to be introduced to the God of the Universe who can transform all areas of life.

Hers is just one example of the impactful work done through FCA ministry in Russia. Since the spring, Agafornov and his team have hosted weekly webinars for over 200 coaches. They send a link through WhatsApp and open it to interested coaches.

For the first webinar, 180 coaches attended, a number that floored Agafornov. “I just watched them go up--50, 100, 120, 150, 180!”

What’s also incredible is 90% of the coaches attending are not believers. But the team has built into the coaches’ community throughout the city, offering webinars and encouragement. 17 coaches have gone through the full Christian version of 3D Coaching training course.

Through these webinars, God has given Agafornov a vision for what long-term ministry in St. Petersburg and beyond could be. “We can grow, grow, grow. In Russia, coaches are hungry for 3D and spiritual training. No one teaches about relationships, like coach-to-player and player-to-parent. It’s only about skills and strength.”

Agafornov explained that while many of the older generation that grew up under the old Russia rule of no God, no relationship in sport, the younger generation understands a spiritual element is very important and are on the search to find it.

“The spiritual is the foundation,” he said, believing God can do anything with willing hearts. “For God, there are no limits. No matter a person’s religious background, He can touch hearts if we are faithful.”

In the time of global shut down, God continues to open doors and make a way for His message. Through quarantine time, Agafornov noted incredible connections made in the sports world, like a top coach in ice hockey who is a Christian from Moscow.

“It’s an amazing God connection,” he said, “the coach has helped lead a few webinars. In this period [of isolation], it has brought great connection and good.

That’s what the Good News is for--reaching every coach and athlete across Russia, faith and sport. No person or system is too far from God’s great love. Agafornov said it best, “Praise Jesus that God is touching all nations and religions!”