“And there is no other God besides Me, A righteous God and a Savior; There is none except Me. Turn to Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other.”
- Isaiah 45:21b-22
Russia is certainly at the “ends of the earth”; and the passage above is at the very heart of our praying and preaching in that dark place. The missionaries in Siberia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan proclaim one God who is Yahweh, one Savior who is Christ. There truly is no other. Oh, that the nations would turn to Him and be saved!
In Russia, it is estimated that six out of every ten pregnancies end in abortion; 80% of marriages end in divorce; suicide rates are among the highest in the world; drug use is epidemic; and only 1.2% of the population is evangelical. Although these statistics are quite disheartening, my hope is that you would be stirred up all the more to pray for the people of Russia. The following is intended not just to inform but to encourage and aid you in praying for specific needs in order to make a specific impact for the glory of God!
Russian Translation Work
Over the past few months, HeartCry’s work in Belarus has advanced mainly in the area of translation. The men of Gospel Reformation, led by HeartCry missionary Slava, have been diligent in their efforts to complete a monumental task: translating the 784-page Systematic Theology by Louis Berkhof into Russian. They finished the translation on May 13. As historic as this accomplishment is for the Russian-speaking world, much work must still be done to make the book available. They now have to go back through to edit and prepare the book for printing. Also regarding translation work, Gospel Reformation has fully completed Exegetical Fallacies by D.A. Carson. HeartCry just sent the remainder of the funds necessary to get the initial 1,000 copies printed. This will no doubt be a great help to many Russians in their study of Scripture. In addition, Gospel Reformation is currently translating The Holy Spirit by Sinclair Ferguson. They are about halfway through this 290-page book, which is a part of “The Contours of Christian Theology” series, an eight-volume set that Gospel Reformation plans to translate fully in the near future.
We are thankful to hear from our partners that Paul Washer’s workbooks (translated into Russian late last year) are proving to be fruitful in Belarus and Russia. Slava writes: “People are still requesting more of Paul Washer’s books, The One True God and The Truth About Man, and they are making an impact. Personally, we continue to study The Truth About Man in home groups in our church. The response to the material has been very good. The people are challenged in their thinking, but are happy for their minds to be stretched a bit.”
Lord willing, at the end of June, Nikos Cox and I will travel to Belarus. I will be coordinating a training conference there for 25-30 pastors, and Nikos will be recording all the teaching and gathering media data. We have secured two teachers for the conference: Pastor Jeff Stivason of Pittsburgh, PA and Hector Morrison, president of Highland Theological College in Scotland. The main teaching topic will be the Doctrine of the Trinity. Please pray for this time, as it will be a great opportunity for many Russian pastors to grow in their understanding of this crucial doctrine. Also, it will be a good opportunity for me to meet with several new missionary prospects.
Travel to Siberia - An Urgent Need
At some point in the near future, I plan to travel to Srednekolymsk, a town in Northeast Siberia and inside the Arctic Circle. Summer is the optimal time of year to travel there, as the sun does not set, and the temperature does get above freezing. I will be visiting a church whose pastor, Dan Vanschaemelhout, recently died of poor health. His death did not come as a surprise, as his health had been steadily declining for the past year. In spite of this, Dan chose to stay in order to spend his final days preaching Christ in a remote place where no one else would. I will be reporting more on all of this upon my return, so for now, I will mention only a few things.
Dan was an American missionary sent out from a church in Colorado to Russia in 1993. He began ministering among the Yakut people in Srednekolymsk in 2002. He planted a church there, which he continued to pastor until his death last month (May 2013). He was also regularly spreading the gospel in nine of the surrounding villages. As a result of his evangelistic efforts, there are now groups of believers in some of these villages, none of which have a pastor, including now the church that Dan has left behind in his death. There is literally no one capable of leading these believers within hundreds, if not thousands of miles. The purpose of my visit there will be to encourage the churches to continue looking to Christ, teach and preach the Word to them and to see exactly how HeartCry can come alongside and help them – both in aquiring new leadership and growing and functioning as a church presently. Please pray that the Lord would equip us for service, and pray for these dear saints in Srednekolymsk, that the Lord would greatly provide for their needs.