Preaching the Gospel Near Europe’s Highest Mountain
Russia’s Caucasus Region
Russia’s Caucasus Mountains region has some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. One republic, Kabordino-Balkaria, is home to Europe’s highest peak—an inactive volcano called Mt. Elbrus. Yet the scenic beauty can be misleading. The Caucasus region has seen horrific violence in recent years, including two wars between Russia and separatists in the Muslim-dominated republic of Chechnya. It’s a region that desperately needs the Lord Jesus and His redeeming love.
SGA-sponsored missionary pastor Ruslan travels many miles through the mountain regions to share the Gospel with the last. The church he pastors is a small, yet vibrant congregation, and God is blessing . . .
We have between 20-25 people regularly coming for services. New people often come, and among them are a couple named Sergei and Lyudmila about 60. They repented recently and attend all services. Our church is like one family. All men are involved in the ministry. Some of them visit hospitals together with me. Some men visit prisoners. Some minister in music and play guitar, while others preach. We have frequent new visitors, and even bring people from local hospitals to the church. God has indeed blessed us! We have registered our church but we still need our own House of Prayer. Right now we are on the second floor of a shop and that makes it hard for some to attend. We need at least a piece of land to begin to build a church building.
In addition to his prison and hospital ministry, Ruslan also leads ministry to drug and alcohol addicts. He visits people admitted into the rehab clinic on an almost daily basis holding one-on-one counseling sessions with patients, and conducting full worship services as God permits. As a result, several now know the Lord as their Savior. God is also working through Ruslan’s visits to a tuberculosis sanitarium, which Ruslan says is especially heart-wrenching . . .
This really is a hard place to visit. There are about 500 patients who are seriously ill and at the edge of death. TB is a cruel and deadly disease. Many people have repented during our ministry here over the last eight years. It is difficult to take them to the church because of contagion. Yet the Lord gave us Dmitri as a new brother. We baptized him over the summer. And the other day, three ladies repented who were together in one hospital room. Two are named Natasha and the other is Yelena. Please remember them in prayer, and continue to pray for me as the Lord opens doors for ministry!
Bringing God Glory Before the Authorities
The Lord Jesus commands . . . Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:16). Teams led by Ruslan’s wife, Helen, make visits to a large rehabilitation center for children who have autism, cerebral palsy, and other conditions. Their ministry is a good witness for the town, and allows them to share the Gospel with local authorities and the caregivers. Ruslan also visits a local maximum-security prison, where one day he met a man named Vasily. This 50-year-old prisoner had a long criminal record and was a drug addict. He claimed to be pagan and often visited meetings of Ruslan’s Bible study group just to argue. But over time, the Lord granted him faith to believe and Vasily repented at the last meeting.
According to Ruslan, there is another inmate who is close to receiving Christ. This man is a regular visitor to the Bible studies, and has been imprisoned for many years. But Ruslan asks us to keep interceding in prayer for him and for those who are hearing the Gospel. The Islamic influence is very strong in this prison (and in the region) and it is hard to reach people there. Despite the challenges, Ruslan is able to have regular meetings, and is reaching officers as well as the other prisoners. His ministry is made possible through your faithful prayers and generous support. If you would like to find out more about how you can sponsor a faithful missionary pastor through SGA, please click here, or call our office at 1-800-BIBLE-50.