Russia (MNN) — Extreme temperatures in Eastern Europe have killed over 650 people this winter.
Sergey Rakhuba with
Russian Ministries says temperatures were as low as -35 Celsius (about -31 Fahrenheit) for a number of consecutive days.
"[There were] 112 fatalities in Ukraine alone," says Rakhuba. "Thousands of people are stranded because of this situation with extreme cold in the central part of Eastern European area, in the Former Soviet Union."
Abandoned cars litter the streets. Many people remain inside all day. "We had to cancel many of our events because of the danger of being exposed to such extreme cold," adds Rakhuba.
The bitter cold in Moscow is even more extreme than in the Arctic Circle at this point, says Rakhuba. And yet an interesting phenomenon is taking place.
Rakhuba explains, "Despite this extreme weather–and a mega snowfall moved in Moscow in the last couple of days, people are still going outside, many of those who are declaring their desire to have honest and clear presidential elections that are coming in Russia in the next couple of weeks."
A drive for political stability is apparently outweighing the drive for warmth in many. 100,000 people showed up to one recent protest, reports Rakhuba, demanding a fair election come March 4.
Current president Vladimir Putin has been in office for 12 years, and many believe he will take the title again. A number of protests have surrounded the 2012 elections, and some fear unrest and corruption. The cold is not stopping people from speaking out for change.
Christians are focusing on two things: prayers that whoever ends up in office next will provide religious freedom for all, including evangelicals, and raising up the next generation of Russian leaders in Christ.
Russian Ministries is encouraging believers to use the politically-charged climate to reach young people, many of whom are seeking spiritual values. Bearing up the next generation in Christ not only gets the Good News to those in desperate need, but helps ensure that future leadership will be based on a Biblical foundation.
Russian Ministries is able to train young people through its Schools Without Walls program in particular. To learn more or get involved, click here.