Russia's Evangelical Churches In Russia Rise to the Challenge
Thanks to the generous financial support of Great Commission Media Ministries friends and partners Evangelical Churches across Russia have received over eight (8) million copies of the New Testament, Gospels of John, Bibles and high quality evangelistic books containing powerful transformation stories. Using these books over 2,500 new churches have been planted in the past 5 years. But a battle rages for the hearts of 145 million Russians. The government has targeted these same churches with renewed persecution not seen since the collapse of the Soviet Union (USSR) in December of 1991.
We asked GCMM indigenous missionaries how churches in Russia are currently faring and how they would evaluate the results of the support from GCMM in the last five years:
Irene, full time GCMM literature ministries coordinator had this to say:
"Thank you for your immense support for the spread of the Gospel in Russia over the years. The harvest has truly been great.
We are so thankful to the Lord that despite the resistance we face, He continues to give us the boldness to lead fellow Russians to Jesus across Siberia and East Russia. We are determined to take the Gospel to the most remote corners of our country. But, to do so, we lack the needed tools, evangelistic literature.
We are fervently praying that you might supply us with:
- 200,000 copies of the Gospel of John
- 100,000 New Testaments
- 200,000 evangelism books
- 200,000 child evangelism books
Andrey, full time GCMM missionary, home grown in Russia, reports:
"At GCMM ministries we produce programs geared toward families daily. We’ve told the story of married couples who were reunited after their divorce. When they accepted Jesus into their lives, their broken families were reunited.
Many, who were deep in a family crisis, were divorced or contemplating divorce, responded to our programs.
People were given the opportunity to hear the Gospel and that Jesus Christ could be trusted as Lord over marital problems. They heard the life-changing stories of those who had experienced healing and help amidst their marital problems as well as problems related to addictions.
Jesus told the story of the sower sowing his seeds. Part of the sown seed fell on rocky soil. Another part was plucked up by birds. And then some were scorched by the sun and dried up. The same is true when we sow the seed of the Word of God. We sow the seeds, but we can’t know what kind of soil they fall upon.
We know that government censorship in Russia robs some of the seed. Some get choked out by the Kremlin’s propaganda through the media. But other seeds find fertile hearts and produce a plentiful harvest.
Harvest From Superbook Series
“The seeds that were sown when the Bible cartoon series was aired reached my heart as well, and began to grow. I received Christ into my life, and I am now at this place in life, serving as a full time GCMM missionary.”
Just like the mustard seed that grew into a huge tree, the Gospel seed reached a young boy in a small village in Moldova and by God’s grace I am here now, serving Him and my countrymen. We believe in the power of the seed, that it does produce fruit wherever it is sown.
I Received Jesus Through
Still today, at GCMM we continue to receive testimonials of Russians who watched the Bible cartoons series on Soviet TV in 1990-1992.
Over a million response letters came in to our offices in just four weeks in 1991. The Russian postal service was flooded with response letters. They had never seen similar response. The nation was on the move, searching for God.
Yet we wonder, how many others had watched the program and had received Jesus but never responded by mail.
In February of this year, at Missions Fest in Vancouver, BC one of those viewers approached us to tell her story:
“I was from an atheistic family. I too watched your Bible programs as a child in Russia. But I never wrote to you. I learned a lot about the Bible and found a solid foundation for my life in Jesus. Now all of my children are believers as well.”
Bushels Filled With Seed
Yuri and Andrey reported that this past winter, we printed 100,000 Gospels of John and 25,000 New Testaments. They were distributed in three major regions in eastern Siberia, the Irkutsk, Buryat and Yakutsk regions.
In these regions, winter is the only time of year to distribute and deliver literature because the ground and the waterways are frozen. Remote villages cannot be accessed by car as there are no roads.
“For example, the books and New Testaments are transported over Lake Baikal when it’s frozen,” says Juri.
Russia’s evangelical churches have ordered more New Testaments, Bibles and Gospels of John. These orders come from Siberia and the Russian Far East.
“I ask you to remember the printing of the Word for Russia in your prayers. I invite you to join us in sowing the Gospel seed,” says Andrei Motinga.
I encourage all of us to use all forms of media—including social media and television.
The Cost of Serving God in Russia
Today, a battle rages for the hearts of millions of Russians. The government has targeted active churches and ministries with renewed persecution not seen since the collapse of the Soviet Union (USSR) in December of 1991. Below is a recent report on hardship that the Church is enduring:
Sergei Stepanov, a local missionary in the Central Russian city of Tambov, was recently fined ten thousand Rubles for inviting people to a worship service on the Internet this past Easter. He was summoned to court after authorities found his online posting of the worship service.
The court determined he did not have the right to “practice” such missionary outreach citing the recently passed antiterrorism law, effectively classifying missionary activity as a dangerous element to society.
To date, hundreds of court cases have been logged against the church under this new restrictive law.
Russia is a geographically large country and severity of the enforcement of the law varies from region to region.
Those churches which have submitted to Russian government control and have disengaged from evangelism have been exempted from consequences of the law.
Theological Seminary Closed
This past spring two Baptist Theological seminaries in Moscow were indicted by authorities and one has already been shut down. The reason given was that the lecturers, professors had not received certification by Russian authorities.
Because of this “certification” process, churches are no longer able to educate church members to fill ministry positions in their own churches. Several leadership training programs within the churches are facing the same dilemma.
Qualified teachers from international theological institutes are not recognized nor accepted in Russia.
Church Building Torn Down
On May 17, masked, armed units of the police force stormed and stopped a worship service in the Novosibirsk area. Soon after, the building the congregation had worshiped in for eight years was torn down.
Christian Rehab Centers Closed
Christian rehab centers are being targeted as well.
Armed units of the Ministry of Interior entered these rehab centers in Southern Russia where drug addicts seek help, treatment, and deliverance from their addictions.
Staff at these rehab centers were violently arrested as officers slam them to the ground while kicking them. Then they are interrogated and threatened.
At a rehab center in the city of Kaliningrad the staff were heavily fined for reading from the Bible during rehab sessions. Government agents checked the centre's daily schedule posted on the wall. On the schedule, the day starts with prayer and ends with reading from the Bible.
The Yarovaya law was referred to and it was determined that illegal activity was taking place with regards to reading from the Bible each evening.
Raining Missiles To Showers Of Blessing In Israel
As 700 rockets and missiles, capable of severe destruction, were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel, approximately 7,000 Messianic Jews and Christians gathered at the world’s largest Messianic conference in Kiev, Ukraine, to receive a shower of God’s blessings.
Once again Israelis experienced the reality of life in the Holy Land as they huddled in fear in their bomb shelters. Andrei Senderov, host of the TV program Familiar Israel, told us that twenty people hid in his home’s bomb shelter for the first few days of May. His home is the only one in the neighborhood that has a bomb shelter.
“We Are Under Attack”
GCM Ministries has produced TV programing with the Sumrov family that live and work at Nahal Oz’s kibbutz. The kibbutz is located only 700 meters away from the Gaza border. At the peak of the missile attacks we received text messages from Katja Sumrov: “Please pray for us, we are under attack at this moment!” Our prayers were heard, and nobody died at the kibbutz during this attack.
Helping The Traumatized
The constant state of heightened fear of attacks has traumatized especially the young and old. The congregations have a big challenge of dealing with the spiritual and physical needs of these people. We at GCMM have the privilege of standing with them, supporting their efforts any way we can.
We have been asked to conduct another campaign next fall to provide comfort and the Gospel to the Jewish people. Please pray for these efforts and our ministry to the Jews to be a blessing to them.
Showers of Blessing
The birth of the nation of Israel is a miracle that God had promised in Ezekiel 37:12-14: “Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: 'My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel... I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land.’” The first part of this prophecy was fulfilled in 1948, and now we are living at a time when the latter part is coming to pass.
Mega Messianic Conference
A massive prayer conference was held in Kiev, Ukraine May 4 – 5 where 7,000 people from 32 countries attended. Another 50,000 followed the conference on social media. GCM Ministries participated at the conference with 17 people attending from our Helsinki-based ministry center. We had a blessed time of praising, dancing, crying, and worship.
We witnessed God’s outpouring of his Spirit on the Jewish people. People came into the presence of the Messiah and were healed of their sicknesses, spiritual, and psychological traumas. Young people especially asked for prayer and sought God’s touch.
GCM Ministries blesses Israel, and we gladly support and help as much as we can in the spiritual awakening of the Jews.