The vast, harsh landscape of Far East Russia contains hundreds of villages that have never heard of God, much less the Gospel. Miles upon miles can lie between these remote outposts of civilization, and some villages are only accessible by either air or by snowmobile when the rivers freeze over.
The forbidding climate is not the only thing to consider. The people living in these villages are steeped in paganism of varying varieties. They offer vodka to the “gods of the river” for a good catch of fish or to the woods for a good hunt. Life there is truly harsh and hope is virtually non-existent. Yet the evangelical churches SGA serves hear the call of God—the same call expressed in the hearing of the Prophet Isaiah . . . Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? (Isaiah 6:8). In the Far East city of Khabarovsk, young believers are answering “Send us!” I had the blessing and privilege of meeting some of them earlier this year, along with Derek Maxwell who leads SGA/United Kingdom.
One morning we worshipped with Pastor Benjamin Livtsenyuk and his congregation, which is located in an inner-city neighborhood. With its population of 607,000 people, Khabarovsk is a natural hub for ministry activities in the Far East. Benjamin called out to his son, Vadim, and a youth group that had recently made an excursion to six remote villages to provide a report.
They told me that these villages have no church, no Christian presence, and the people there have no hope. This was the third time the young people had travelled there to build relationships and share the Gospel. Now they plan on making visits to the villages at least twice a month as God provides. As they related their experience to me, they said it was both exciting and scary. They spoke with one man in a broken-down village who said, “People have forgotten about God.” Another woman related her near-death experiences and wondered aloud if God was protecting her for some reason. They broke into smaller groups and prayed with people they met.
Wonderfully, in almost every case the adults and children urged the youth to return and talk with them more! There was one exception when they encountered a man with a shovel who made it clear he did not want to talk to the youth. As they finished telling me about their journey, one youth spoke up and declared, “Praise God that we have a pastor who told us that we needed to go, or we never would have gone!” Everyone in the congregation was asked to form groups of two or three and pray for the villages, asking God to open the hearts of the villagers to the Gospel. Derek and I joined them in prayer. God Himself is Reaching Russia Now, raising up a generation ready and willing to go. Will you prayerfully consider helping send them to reach even more people with the love of Jesus?
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