In the past, Siberia has been famous for salt mines. It was a land to which political prisoners and dissidents were routinely dispatched. Today on a flight to Ekaterinburg you will see well-dressed businessmen. They are now seeking wealth beneath the permafrost. Northern Siberia is rich in oil, gas, and minerals.
Since Perestroika (openness) and Glasnost (freedom) in the early 90s, others have gone to Siberia seeking greater wealth – pearls of great price: the souls of men and women, which are of more value than the entire world. This exercise to bring the gospel to Siberia came mainly from the assemblies in North America. Through the distribution of Bibles and the preaching of the gospel in earlier years, many were saved. I was privileged to be with Mr. Fitch and Mr. Perkins when the assembly commenced in Kaskara in 1994. In the thirteen years since then, I have visited the five assemblies now in that area in order to teach and help the local believers. The believers are anxious to learn and have a willingness to obey the Word of God. There is also great material need among the saints. Older people will speak of the certainties they had back under the USSR when they had at least the basics of shelter and warmth.
New laws in recent years forbid foreigners to preach or distribute Bibles publicly. They also limit where we go and how long we can stay. The assemblies are therefore not growing as we would desire, because of such restrictions on gospel work. God willing, my wife Shonagh and I return this fall. There is a local exercise to have a gospel van with Bibles and literature for the assembly at Severouralsk to reach out into the markets and towns in the Ural Mountain area.
God has marvelously opened up the vast land of Russia so that the people, kept in the dark for 70 years under communism, could now have the light of the glorious gospel. Please pray fervently that assembly testimony in “a land barren and desolate” (Joel 2:20) will be preserved until the Lord comes.