SGA-Sponsored Missionary Pastor in Yakutsk, Russia
God is great and He is in control of everything going on in the world. We believe that this situation with the coronavirus pandemic is also under the control of our Almighty Creator and Savior. We pray that He will end the pandemic soon, and that He will use the crisis to bring salvation to many people around the world in these troubled times.
In the Yakutsk region, we have had hundreds of people infected with the virus, with the majority being in the city of Yakutsk proper. As of this report, only a handful have died but the number of infections is rising. People were not allowed to go out of their houses, except to buy groceries and household items at the nearest store. If you needed to walk a pet, you could only do so within 100 yards of your home. Shops, restaurants, and other businesses were closed except for groceries and drug stores. Buses were also shut down for most of the day, so people either had to walk or take a taxi. Those who are 65 years old and older were not allowed to leave their houses even to buy food! The authorities said that relatives or volunteers should take care of the elderly. Later in April, fines began being imposed on anyone who violated the lockdown.
The economic situation in Russia as a whole is also grim due to the pandemic and the fall in oil prices. People are losing their jobs and salaries. The authorities strongly recommended that all churches stop services and gatherings till the quarantine ends in order to minimize the risk of infecting people, and our churches in Yakutia have complied. We record sermons on video and send it to church members via WhatsApp and Telegram, and we use phone calls in order to encourage our believers. We ask our brothers and sisters around the world to pray for relief, and for a spiritual revival in our country and around the world.
In these times of trouble, some of our believers are doctors, so they are at work during the quarantine helping the diseased. Examples are Dr. Alexei Podoksenov in the village of Aldan or Dr. Ekaterina Moiseeva in Pokrovsk. Other believers serve as volunteers. For instance, in the city of Yakutsk Nikolai Sidorov serves as a driver for doctors. Since local buses are not operating, he decided to give doctors a ride to the hospitals. He wrote a sign on his car’s rear windshield—“Ready to give a ride to doctors for free.” In Aldan, Pastor Igor Melnik and his wife have joined the local volunteer group bringing food packages to poor families and sharing the Gospel with these people.
As a pastor, I spend time talking to people on the phone every day, trying to encourage them and helping them solve their problems. This is just the right time for our believers to be actively involved in Compassion Ministry, bringing both food and the Gospel to needy people! God has blessed us with faithful brothers and sisters through SGA who sent us financial aid, so that we can buy and distribute food for poor families and old people in Yakutia. Praise the Lord!
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).