When the Iron Curtain crumbled, an unprecedented opportunity surfaced—the opportunity to take the Good News of Jesus Christ into the former Soviet Union that had been crippled by decades of communism.
“Russia at that time was a total wasteland—economically and spiritually. It’s hard to imagine that people survived in the way they did when you look back. But when it opened up, it became evident that there was a deep hunger for truth and the gospel,” said Bud Toole, Co-Founder of East-West.
“We started underground in Russia, but the dynamics began to shift when the Iron Curtain fell. We could go into universities and even in the streets to tell people about Jesus Christ,” said John Maisel, Founder of East-West. “Handing out Bibles and literature was like giving water to someone who hadn’t had it in years. They would swarm around us in the streets, thirsty for God’s Word, even though they didn’t know what they would find.”
When John and Bud saw this thirst, they felt compelled to carry the Light into this dark territory and East-West was born.
“We just wanted to do our part and show up. God would demonstrate Himself if we did that,” John said. “Our only philosophy was to trust the Lord and be pioneers for the gospel in Russia.”
This same pioneering spirit of following God’s call to expel darkness still saturates East-West on every level—from the founders, to our missionaries, to you—our ministry supporters.
“We followed where He led us,” John said, “and He brought people alongside us to support His work. Whether they’ve been with us since the beginning or for a few days, we could not have accomplished anything without their support. The people touched by East-West are eternally grateful to our ministry supporters . . . as am I.”
“God has taken the ministry far beyond anything I could have imagined,” Bud said. “It has been the ultimate blessing of my life to see what God has done through this flawed bunch of nobodies. If we stay close to the cross, He’ll continue to bless the work we’re now doing all over the world.”