The Lord’s work commenced in Tobolsk, Russia in 1991. (Tobolsk is the headquarters of the Russian Orthodox Church and is referenced in Scofield’s footnote of Ezekiel 38.) During the next six years many joined in the effort to distribute 650,000 New Testaments and Bibles in this area. The gospel of Christ was preached and souls were saved. Believers were taught the principles of gathering unto the Lord’s name and five assemblies commenced. These assemblies, two in the Ural Mountains and three in Western Siberia, continue to the present. “To God be the glory, great things He hath done.” A book entitled, To Siberia with Bibles, was published in 2001 by D. Yade and L. Smith and chronicles the early years of this work. It details how God opened the door for the gospel of Christ after the fall of communism.
Calamity despite the work
In 1996 the national laws that govern missionary work were changed. Due to the influx of various denominational groups and cults, foreign religions were forbidden to enter the country. Hundreds of representatives from these missionary groups left the country because another law limited their stay to 90 days. Any public service, such as distribution of literature or proselytizing, is a basis for permanent barring from the country.
During the 90-day stays of brethren from the West, souls came to know Christ as their Savior. However, during periods of absence, these new Christians were left untaught and later filtered into different religious groups.
Russian officials often asked the hostess of visiting brethren such questions as: Why were they present? What was their business? This heightened fear among the believers in reaching out to others with the gospel. It became increasingly difficult to find reliable interpreters.
The ongoing work is now limited to the area of the five established assemblies. Attempts have been made to branch out to nearby villages but the Russian Church is quick to notice and halt such endeavors.
A local brother thought there certainly must be better ways to add growth to the assembly. Contact was made via the Internet with a group that ended up being a cult; but not before false doctrines were introduced. Many believers left the fellowship. Some have since acknowledged their error and have been restored to God and the fellowship.
Commitment toward the work
Intense study of the language has allowed functional ability from the public platform and in private without an interpreter. The national people are patient with mistakes and the Word of God is ministered with understanding. An invalid believer graciously devotes many hours to correcting grammar and helping to enhance clarity of messages.
Diligent effort is made each spring and fall to visit local gatherings of believers. The primary focus is to minister God’s Word. Material needs of the poor are also addressed along with necessary financial help for building and transportation expenses. The divine providence of God never fails to prearrange contacts with whom to speak privately about the Savior.
Continuance regarding the work
A saved sister was hospitalized. In the next bed, a poor Muslim lay very ill. She heard the story of the Savior, found peace in sins forgiven, and lived to prove it until the Lord took her home.
Many saints have dachas (farm plots with a small house). After the day’s work, they would gather around a campfire and sing hymns. Neighbors heard this and joined them. Two ladies were saved, baptized, and now continue in sweet fellowship.
The gospel paper A Matchless Pearl was given to a young brother. He, in turn, shared it with his wife. For the first time she expressed an interest in the things of God. He took a few more papers to work and shared them with fellow workers. He found tremendous joy in telling others of the Savior.
A magazine is being published for the encouragement of the local Russian believers. This is being sent to assemblies and isolated saints.
While not an easy endeavor, brethren still occasionally visit the land of Russia and give helpful ministry.
God, in His grace, has opened the door for the Gospel of Christ to go forth in Russia. No man has been able to shut it. Much prayer is needed that local Russian evangelists might be raised up to preach Christ, present wholesome practical teaching, and “let their light so shine before men.” The small faithful remnants of believers need strength to withstand until the Lord comes.