Expat Ministries in Russia

An article by Ilana Ozernoy in a recent (December 26, 2005) U.S. News & World Report offers an outsiders view of American evangelical efforts in Eastern Russian.  Among other things, it states, “The ex-pat evangelical community itself is largely fractured.  Missionaries seldom mix with other Americans for fear of becoming more visible or being lumped with an offending denomination.”  The article is well written and provides plenty of background and observations, including interviews with evangelists “in the field”.  Still, I am left wanting to know the views of more people on the inside.  I ask those now involved in the effort to bring effective religious practice to the people of the fallen Soviet Bloc, or those who have experienced it for themselves, to chime in with their views and observations.

The article also says, “Post-Soviet Russia is a country caught in a spiritual crisis and afflicted by physical decay.”  My experience in talking with young people who have spent time as missionaries in that part of the world is that the Soviet era left the people suspicious, untrusting, and existential.  Not exactly fertile soil for faith.  But the churches continue to grow.  The initial rush of curious converts has faded, and now comes the laying of religoius foundations for coming generations.  How goes it?

I appreciated Ms. Ozernoy’s descriptions of the ups and downs of expat life in Eastern Russian.  Except for some government interference and the expected difficulty of the work, the experience appears to have been a positive one thus far for the few sources quoted in the article.  I hope more voices will join the report here.

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