Russia (MNN) — A new Kremlin-based youth movement in Russia has been formed and funded by President Putin to win the hearts of young people. These groups are getting more popular as young people need a sense of belonging and hope,
says Book of Hope International's Irina Litvinova. "It really reminded me of the Soviet time when I
grew up." Something needs to be done because, Litvinova says, young
people have a need to belong and a need for hope.
Since 1991, Book of Hope International has
distributed more than 60 million Books of Hope to young people in Russia. Now the organization has a goal of handing
out at least five million each year. The
reason? To make sure each child in
Russia has a chance to hear the Gospel.
Litvinova says hopelessness is handed down from their
parents. "People in provinces live really poorly. Their parents cannot
adjust to this reality, and it causes them to drink. Their teenagers see their parents being hopeless, and they start doing drugs because they don't see
any [prospects] for themselves."
The drug problem is staggering. Litvinova says,
"Unofficial statistics now say about six million people are on drugs, and
[many of them] are young people. The average age of kids [that are] starting to
smoke is 9 to 11 years old."
HIV/AIDS infection rates are now at Africa-like rates. Litvinova says this work must continue in
Russia because there's much work to be done. "People probably think that
Russia has been evangelized. But these kids have never heard about God, and
they really don't see any other way. This has become the norm. Kids are drinking
and smoking, and immorality comes from this."
The Book of Hope is the harmony of the Gospel written in a
way kids can understand, and it's having an impact. "We have some
really progressive churches that are growing, and they have hearts for reaching
these kids. We have some Christian teams that go to different villages, and they
reach these kids. And yes, their lives are being changed."
Litvinova is concerned that changes in Russia's religion law
may complicate their work in schools and orphanages. She says it's "one thing to have the
law, and it's another thing to reinforce the law. There's always been ways to
work. I do hope and pray that we will continue our work, even if it will be
limited in some way."
In the meantime, consider helping Book of Hope
International financially. For only $1 you
can supply a Book of Hope to three children. It would make a great Sunday
school class project.