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Seasons of change for Ella's Backyard Vlog

After 18 years of sharing the Gospel with Russian-speaking children through the Ella’s Backyard videos, Garri Sergienko is leaving Square One to serve God with another organization.

Garri and his sister Albina first came to Square One (then Mennonite Brethren Communications) as children in 1991 when their father came here to work with Viktor Hamm and the Russian radio programs.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was greater freedom of expression in Russia. The family moved back to Moscow to produce the Russian programs there. Garri and Albina remember becoming the test audience for their father.

“He would practice his program on us and if it didn’t hold our attention, then he knew he had to revise it to make it more interesting,” says Albina.

The siblings remember another trip to Canada when they accompanied their parents to churches across the country to raise support for the Russian ministry.

“We put on Russian folk costumes and sang Russian Christian songs,” recalls Garri. “Albina was nervous so I held her hand and squeezed it at the right time so she would start singing.”

By the time Garri and Albina were young adults, their mother and a friend were producing the children’s television program, Ella’s Backyard. Garri spent a summer during university answering letters from viewers.

“Every letter said, ‘Thank you for your show. Please send me a Bible. I want to know more about Jesus’.”

He was so moved by the many families who were meeting Jesus that he joined the ministry. A year later, Albina also joined the Ella’s Backyard team.

By 2019, the religious freedom of the 1990s was again disappearing from Russia. Production of the Russian program moved back to Winnipeg. Since then, Garri Sergienko and Albina Nikitina have co-produced Ella’s Backyard Vlog, the latest series under the Ella’s Backyard banner.

While we bless Garri to follow the path God has laid before him, we are also pleased that Ella’s Backyard Vlog will carry on under Albina’s capable leadership. And while we are sad to say goodbye to Garri, we are also pleased to say hello to Ana Lavrukhina.

Ana joined Ella’s Backyard Vlog earlier this year, along with Daniel Taylor, as part-time studio assistants. Ana has been enjoying the work as a puppeteer all along. Now she is excited to have a term position as Production Assistant.

She says, “I feel like I’m doing something meaningful. I want to contribute to the whole process and help Ella deliver God’s truth and love to her audience.”