Russia (MNN) – When was the last time you lived in an area so cold that when you walked outside, your hair or beard froze? Well, in the Far East Russia, this is a normal occurrence.
Ministry in Far East Russia
Yet, it’s in this land of reindeer that the Slavic Gospel Association is working on an aviation program. Aviation is a key aspect in the remote region in connecting churches and spreading the Gospel. In fact, only a few weeks ago SGA’s Erick Mock was in the region checking on the program and helping train Christian leaders.
“To reach some of these remote villages, it is just not possible to go by car. Some of the people are very isolated, and in comes the aviation ministry,” Mock shares. “What we’re hoping to do in several locations across Yakutsk (known as one of the coldest cities on the planet), the Sakha Republic, is to have different centers where aircraft are located.”
In these locations will be missionary pastors and missionary aviators “working together to reach these remote villages as well as plant a church in the small city to become the arms and legs of ministry in that region.”
Part of the reason why aviation is so key to ministry in this region is because the people actually have to wait until the rivers are frozen and the ground is hard before they’re able to travel. Otherwise, the land is too muddy to drive.
Yet, as SGA works with national Christians in this aviation program, Mock says they’re seeing God raise up Christians who are hungry for His Word and who are desiring to share the hope of the Gospel with their fellow countrymen. In fact, a lot of people are hearing the Gospel for the first time in the region.
Reality of Christianity in the Area
Just a few weeks ago, when Mock was in the region, he was working with national Christians by helping lead classes going through the book of Acts and talk about church leadership.
“People who were attending the class came from as far away as 3,000 kilometers, taking a week and a half of driving just to get to the class.” Mock explains.
Despite statistics showing Russia as being 62 percent Christian, in this region there are less than 1,000 Bible believing Christians out of one million people. Needless to say, there’s a lot of evangelism that still needs to happen in this area.
Furthermore, a lot of the villages in Far East Russia are animistic, meaning the people pray to the trees, sun gods, and even river gods. Additionally, these same areas are also filled with alcohol problems, crime, and violence.
“I hear stories of people taking each other’s lives and thinking nothing of it. It’s a very brutal and dehumanizing type of environment, yet the Gospel is that which they need. God has not forgotten these people…by God’s grace, He has opened the door for ministry,” Mock shares.
SGA has one missionary pilot it’s sending over to Far East Russia to assist national Christians in sharing the Gospel. However, besides this, SGA is working to equip nationals to do evangelism. The ministry is doing so by helping train these Christians so they can preach and teach congregations, but also so they can fly to unreached villages.
How to Help
Will you consider supporting a Far East Russian church? Money used for supporting churches isn’t intended to make national churches dependent on foreign aid, but more so to function as a supplement to assist pastors and their ministry needs. For example, the money might provide the gas needed to travel to an unreached community or to hold a holiday outreach.
Also, please pray for the Bible teachers traveling to Far East Russia as well as the missionary pastors reaching out to their people. Pray for the missionary aviators who are helping pioneer the Gospel in unreached communities. Finally, pray for the people who hear the Gospel to have open hearts to God’s Word and to experience the saving grace which only comes through Jesus Christ.
-The region Yakutsk is in is the size of India.
-The region’s population is just under 969,000 people.
-The major city of Yakutsk contains 350,000 of these people.
-Small communities scattered across the region contain the rest of the population
-The oldest church in the region is only 25-years-old.
-There are nine regions in Far East Russia, all of which are nearly the same size as the United States. Only about 10 million people are scattered across these nine regions.
-Less than half of one percent of these 10 million people have heard the Gospel.