Sowing and Harvesting in Kazan
One of the most disturbing developments in recent years has been the increase of governmental oppression aimed at evangelical believers in some parts of the former Soviet Union—most notably the Muslim-dominated nations of Central Asia.
In light of this, how wonderful it was to receive a recent report showing just the opposite from Russia’s Tatarstan region, where SGA-sponsored missionary pastor Timothy Gerega labors in the capital city of Kazan. Tatarstan has a significant Sunni Muslim population, but Timothy reports that the Lord has opened amazing opportunities—with the local government’s careful permission!
Outreach is possible here. The administration is eager to present the city as a place of many opportunities, and that all religions are equally represented and not in conflict with each other. If they consider something provocative, they just ban it. But we began writing official requests for activities in Kazan, and praise God, we were permitted to have three events in 2011! No one before has had such an opportunity here.
The first event was a concert and an evangelistic event with a brother from Belarus. We were allowed to give the concert on the central street in Kazan. The authorities were afraid of provocations, but God preserved and blessed us. We reached people for about two hours, and gave out New Testaments and other Christian books. Afterward, people came up to us and asked questions. Journalists from various publications came and interviewed us, and many people came to know about our church through the articles and on the Internet. A representative of the city was there also. He took pictures and approved of the activity in general. Then in August, we were allowed to have two youth concerts. Glory be to God for everything!
Timothy asks for prayer and for God’s wisdom, because with such tremendous opportunities comes the potential for opposition stirred up by the enemy. They try to conduct their ministry in a quiet and discreet way due to the Muslim context in which they live and labor. The active, large scale mass evangelism that can be done in other parts of Russia is not possible in Kazan.
Help from Ukrainian Brothers
Another notable development in the region is the agreement between Tatarstan churches and brothers from the Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists (UECB) in Ukraine. The regional pastor is originally from Ukraine, and he came to Tatarstan to plant a church in the town of Neberezhnye Chelny. There was no church then, but today there is—with 350 members! According to Timothy, they are united by the desire to see more churches planted in the region . . .
Seven regions in Ukraine are ready to help us plant new churches in Tatarstan with the help of youth teams and teams of ministers. They come to help existing small churches and groups, and assisted in two major regional conferences. They have also invited us to come to Ukraine to take part in youth conferences, so we can invite Ukrainian believers to visit us for outreach here!
We praise and thank the Lord for these wonderful developments, and especially for the part played by SGA partners with their prayerful, faithful support. Please continue to intercede in prayer for Timothy and the believers of Tatarstan. May the Lord bless, protect and anoint their labors in sowing the seeds of the Gospel in a needy region, and raise up a fruitful harvest of new believers.