Reaching Russia’s Far East for Christ
All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations will worship before You (Psalm 22:27)
SGA Vice President of Ministry Operations
Late last summer, I spent two days of driving with the purpose of visiting seven small cities and villages in Far East Russia. With the exception of a small village of 300 Nanai people (one of Russia’s 130-plus ethnic groups), we visited what are termed small cities. These towns are less than 13,000 people, but large enough to sustain a church that will reach the surrounding small villages, of which there are many.
The last church I visited one evening had begun holding services on August 21, just a few weeks prior to our visit, in a village with no believers. This village was in the region where the Nanai people live. Nanai villages are historically pagan, practicing shamanism and offering gifts to the gods to the river—even calling to the “underworld.” The Gospel is so desperately needed here! It is a perfect example of why SGA-sponsored aviation ministry is such a vitally important project that needs to be realized in reaching remote villages!
One day, Avel and Olesya Dolohov received a call from Pastor Benjamin Levtsenuk. He needed a missionary couple to come out to a small city in the Khabarovsk region, revitalize the church, and use it as a home base to reach the surrounding villages. Pereyaslovka is a town of about 7,000 people, and a small evangelical church had been there. A church building was built in 1999, but problems arose and eventually, the church was left with no congregation and no pastor. Avel and Olesya had a nice home, a comfortable life, and a good ministry in Russia’s Ryazan region. Pastor Benjamin gave them no promise of income, nor assurance of a decent place to live.
But that didn’t matter. In obedience to what they saw as the call of God on their lives, they and their children packed what they could into a small sedan,
gave away everything else, and made their way driving across Siberia to the Far East. Arriving at the ramshackle church building in which they would now live, Avel picked up a job clearing trees from the land, and started his ministry. This would prove to be no easy assignment. As is common across rural Russia, many in this region see the Baptist church as a cult, and not from their traditions. Yet, with 10 adults and 12 children, and the even their children now reaching other children through their witness, the church is growing!
As a side note, missionary pastor Avel graduated in 2005 from SGA’s Strategic Bible Institute in Ryazan, and was proud to show me the diploma he earned and has treasured ever since! Please pray for Avel and Olesya, and for the faithful missionary pastors laboring for Christ in the Far East, remembering that they are serving in difficult and often pagan villages. Pray for the Gospel to go forth in this last Gospel frontier—the frontier of Far East Russia!