Gospel Expedition completed in Russia, future trips in question

By September 10, 2007

Russia (MNN) — One of the longest evangelistic bike trips in the world is now complete, but there are questions about future events of this nature.

Slavic Gospel Association's Joel Griffith this trip was the vision of Baptist Union leaders in Russia. "What they did was start out May 13 in Germany at the North Sea, then they concluded on schedule September 3 in Vladivostok. Basically, they covered 9,102 miles on bicycle."

31 bicyclists participated in the tour, which was designed to share the Gospel in each city along the journey. Griffith says, "They were able to hold their meetings in stadiums and cultural halls, town squares, street corners, and any other venue that would receive them. The audiences would number more than 500 at a time, and we found out, too, that they frequently had many, many children who were attached to the sports aspect of this."

According to Griffith, a number of people gave their hearts to the Lord, but the final numbers haven't been tallied yet.

In Russia, Baptists are commonly thought of as members of cults, or worse. Griffith says, "I think the national publicity this received from the media and from the local authorities–I really think that helped the local churches enhance their credibility."

Christians are concerned, however, that new government restrictions may hurt future evangelistic work. A new law requires churches to register with special state agencies, supply details of membership, provide sources of funding, and provide a record of all meetings.

Griffith says, "Thus far, evangelical churches have encountered very little trouble." However, it's uncertain what it will mean in the future. "If political tensions continue to increase and we get the opposition of the Orthodox Church and other agencies that might be opposed to Evangelical churches, and if those forces get increased influence with the national government, we certainly could see certain restrictions imposed."

Whatever happens, the church is committed to continue sharing the Gospel no matter the cost.


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