Russia (MNN) — For the first time ever since the days of the Czars, a Protestant has been elected mayor of a major Russian city. According to William Yoder with the Evangelical Russian Alliance, in run-off elections in the auto-making city of Tolyatti/Volga on March 18, the Evangelical Christian and political independent Sergey Andreyev trounced "United Russia's" candidate, Alexander Shakhov.
Based in Moscow, Paul Tokarchouk with
Russian Ministries was surprised by the election. "Andreyev is an evangelical. He's a believer and a member of a local church. And yet, he was elected — by the majority of the population of the city — as a mayor."
Andreyev won nearly 57% of the vote. The candidate of Vladimir Putin's party received 40%. The English-language "Moscow Times" reports that the upset occurred despite the national government having poured billions into the city to bail out AvtoVAZ, the city's largest employer.
However, this election is exactly what Russian Ministries wants to see happen as Christians become leaders in their communities. Tokarchouk says Russian Ministries School Without Walls training program identifies young community leaders and gives them Biblical leadership training. He says that will affect politics. "Corruption and depravity will decrease, certainly, because people with Christian minds and biblical evangelical values will be against all evil things."
Andreyev indeed was trained as a lay preacher in St. Petersburg's Baptist "New Life" congregation before moving to Tolyatti as a 20-year-old school teacher in 1993. Andreyev has chosen to serve Christ elsewhere.
That's what Tokarchouk would like to see happen with other young people in Tolyatti. "There is one evangelical church and a group of about 20 young people who are going through the monthly seminars and who will be trained and will be influencing the local society through their gifts and their work."
Tokarchouk says many young people are getting involved in School Without Walls. "We have more than 2,000 students right now in about 65 locations across the former Soviet Union and even in Central Asia in those persecuted places like Uzbekistan."
Tolyatti (population 720,000) was called "Stavropol-on-Volga" until renamed in honour of the Italian communist leader Palmiro Togliatti in 1964. Tolyatti's car manufacturer, once known as "Lada," was founded in collaboration with the Italian firm "Fiat."
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