Seeking Principal Indigenous Leaders through Gospel Transformation!
Jason Mandryk, author of Operation World’s 7th edition, lists four challenges to prayers for the Bahamas. They are: Materialism, a low Christian commitment coupled with widespread nominalism, the increasing alienation of the younger Bahamians, and a growing Haitian diaspora.
Christiana and Julian’s reaction to this information was typical of any patriotic Bahamian from their generation. They came to two conclusions: (a) if Mandryk is wrong, they had to work at correcting his published sentiments; (b) if his assessment is correct, they had to become more engaged in becoming part of an answer to prayers.
About the Russell’s
Dr. Julian and Christiana Russell presently serve as the Team Leaders for MTW Bahamas. Prior to that Julian served on the pastoral staff at the 5,000-member Park Cities Presbyterian Church, Dallas, Texas. Christiana, (nee Zonicle), served as an elementary teacher in the Dallas public school system. In 1994, Julian and Christiana and their children moved from the Bahamas to enroll at Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, FL. In 1997 the family relocated to Memphis, TN to plant a PCA church in the downtown area. They have been living in Dallas since 2007.
Julian and Christiana were married on July 4, 1981. They have three children: Andrew, Jason, and Jamila; two daughters-in-law, Stephanie and Melinda, and eight beautiful grandchildren – Judah, Naomi, Isaiah, Elijah, and Zion. Ruhamma, Noah and Eloise Marie are presently with the Lord.
Julian completed both his D.Min. and Th.M. at Covenant Seminary, St. Louis. He completed his M.Div. at Reformed Theological Seminary. Prior to seminary, he worked as a computer professional for more than 20 years. Christiana completed her M.A. in Education at Christian Brothers University, Memphis, and her B.Sc. in Elementary Education and Speech Pathology at the University of Minnesota at Mankato. Christiana has been an educator for almost four decades.
Both Julian and Christiana attended St. Augustine’s College in Fox Hill, New Providence. Julian also attended the College of the Bahamas. He studied for his Masters level in Computer Science through the British Computer Society, England.
By the Lord’s Providence, the Russell’s have collectively seen more than half of the world, as they ministered in the United States, East and West Africa, Canada, Greece, the United Kingdom, Italy, Mexico, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the Fiji Islands, the Caribbean, Central America, and the Bahamas. Their hearts have always been centered on the Lord’s will for His people everywhere, especially those in the Bahamas.
What began as a simple realization in Central Andros in 1982 began to materialize into a compelling vision. Imagine young Bahamian men as godly husbands, strong fathers, faithful to their brothers and sisters, and reliable citizens – men consistently demonstrating integrity as they eagerly serve their own communities for the glory of God! Imagine young Bahamian women standing shoulder-to-shoulder with their husbands, their brothers, their peers, and with other women, contributing their great wealth of wisdom and persistence, as they serve out of the abundance of their giftedness.
Julian and Christiana realize that the Lord had placed this desire on their hearts. They began to aggressively seek to identify possible leaders for the purpose of developing principal leaders.
In 1980, Julian and Christiana began to serve both the individual geriatric patients, and led corporate worship services for the patients at the Sandilands Rehabilitation Hospital. Two years later they began a pastoral ministry to the inmates at Her Majesty’s Prison. During the period 1982 to 1994, Julian and Christiana also led VBS and revival services throughout the Bahamas – Acklins and Crooked Island, Ragged Island, Cat Island, Abaco, Andros, Grand Bahama, and New Providence.
The people of the Bahamas are as spiritually alienated from the Lord as all other people groups. Therefore, the Bahamas’ greatest need is, and will always be the Gospel of Grace.
According to Mandryk, almost 40% of the population see themselves as evangelicals. That’s why Julian and Christiana long for more Bahamians to embrace the Sovereignty of God in their Worship, Work, and Witness.
Led by the Holy Spirit, Julian and Christiana have relocated to lead the efforts of the Bahamas Partnership. Their roles are as follows:
– Pray earnestly for the peace and prosperity of the Bahamian people;
– Begin a radio broadcast exclusively for the Bahamas – Covenant Life;
– Shape and cultivate a church-planting movement in the Bahamas;
– Serve as “ambassadors” to both Bahamian and American churches and agencies;
– Take the lead in developing Prayer Teams for this work;
– Collaborate with PCA churches, MTW, committed individuals, and other agencies;
– Collaborate with other evangelical churches to help facilitate this vision;
– Facilitate overall vision and mission as local missionaries;
– Recruit potential short- and long-term missionaries from USA;
– Take the lead in fund-raising process;
– Identify and train potential leaders for Christian Transformational Development in the Bahamas and beyond;
– Lead annual short-term mission trips to the Bahamas.
The Russel’s goal is huge, seemingly impossible. They continue to pray and work toward an Indigenous Leadership Development plan with the end goal of a biblical and robust Reformed church planting movement. Julian and Christiana strongly desire to see these ends accomplished through the Bahamas Partnership.
There is a relative peace and prosperity of the Islands that could make the Bahamas a prime location to cultivate a missionary force for West Africa, the Caribbean, and the world at large.