Russia (MNN) — Sixteen years after helping a young pastor plant a church in Russia's Ural Mountains, the fruit is abundant.
Book of Hope attended the dedication of new facilities for this church just a few weeks ago. The church has seen incredible growth and done much in its 16 years. "In addition to the local church which has about 8-10 thousand baptized believers, they have planted 500 churches across the region of the Urals. They call it 'The Church Book of Hope Built,' so it was an incredible moment for us to see a seed planted 16 years ago and what the harvest is today," said Bob Hoskins of Book of Hope.
On top of planting churches in Russia, they are moving throughout the world. "That's their main thrust. They have a Bible school, and they're turning out young people to be missionaries. They not only plant churches in Russia, but they're sending teams to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. They even have teams going into China. So it's becoming a missions center for reaching out beyond Russia. Particularly, they are targeting the Muslim regions," Hoskins said.
There are approximately 125,000 towns and villages in all of Russia. Since only 24,000 have an evangelical church, there is still a lot of work to do to help the people.
Russia has Europe's highest number of AIDS infections, growing numbers of alcoholism and suicide, and a dying economy. Hoskins said, "The people there are in such a desperate, hopeless situation that when we come with the Book of Hope and the Gospel, they respond. And so the goal of Pastor Edward and the other pastors in Russia is to keep reaching out until they've reached the hundred-thousand unreached villages. They really believe God will help them to do it."
This fruit is evidence that Book of Hope is more than a literature source. They align themselves with churches and pastors who can help them get the Book of Hope in the hands of children. Later they hold follow-up events and Hope clubs, which are the beginnings of a church.
"It still takes only 33 cents to put God's love letter, the Book of Hope, into the hand of a child– a student in a school somewhere in the world. That's not just the printing cost. That's our total cost," said Hoskins.