Journal Chretien reports on an uprising of protestants in Russia, fighting back against oppression by the Russian Orthodox Church:
At a time when the voice of the protestant church in Russia is being muted and civil liberties curtailed an historic evangelistic outreach took place in Russia’s third largest city Nizhny Novgorod. A whole mega city was moved.
The mega city campaign in Russia’s third largest city Nizhniy Novgorod in May surpassed all expectations. The mega city campaign has changed the spiritual landscape and the left unforgettable memories in the carrying out of the Great Commission of Christ in one of Russia’s largest cities. The campaign amounted to the saturation of a major city of 2 million with the Gospel for a 30-day period.
Russia’s churches have not seen similar massive scale presentations of the Gospel in recent history. Nizhny Novgorod was the seventh Russian hub city to have been reached in the last 3 years. Other cities reached so far are Volgograd (previously Stalingrad), Ufa (Ural Mountains), Petrozavodsk (Karelia), Archangel (Northern Russia), Voronezh, Samara (Central Russia), Almaty (Kazakhstan). From Governors to Mayors to government officials, the military, professors to inmates have been touched by the campaigns, which also include a humanitarian element. Aid, clothing, food, hygiene goods along with the Gospel are delivered to hundreds of children in scores of children’s prison camps. Social issues such as alcoholism, drug addiction, divorce, abortion are also persuasively addressed from a spiritual standpoint.
In Nizhny Novgorod compelling testimonies of changed lives produced locally by IRR-TV production teams were broadcast on both secular radio and TV channels daily to over 2 million residents of Nizhny Novgorod and its surrounding areas. The Gospel was presented in hundreds of thousands of homes over a period of 30 days. A total of 36 churches in the city participated in the campaign. Fifty thousand (50,000) copies of a 10 page evangelistic book, tailor-made for the city, containing local testimonies were distributed by the local churches. 330,000 flyers were hand delivered to homes in the city by participating churches.
Thousands of city residents called the 24/7 call center. There were surprise calls. The Kremlin of Nizhny Novgorod (headquarters for the provincial government) ordered 15 copies, the Interior Ministry ordered 16 books, and the FSB (formerly KGB) wanted 6 books. By the third week of the campaign the call center had logged over 5,000 calls. An additional thousand calls were received in surrounding cities stemming from the TV programs seen over a wide area. The call center was staffed by 126 trained counselors. Each call was followed up by visits to homes. In four weeks 4,639 homes were visited. About 2,000 homes were visited 3 or more times at the request of the families themselves. During these visits many made personal decision for Christ.
Vadim Kruglikov, the campaign’s assisting director, recounted the campaign’s success. “We see opened doors to the local and regional government. Churches have gained exponential visibility in the city. They have gained confidence and assurance in their mission. The authorities view, respect the congregations in a totally different way.”
The campaign is far from over. The churches of Nizhny Novgorod are already planning the next campaigns in other cities throughout Nizhny province. For the Baptists alone, the aim from this campaign is to plant at least 10 new churches.
The following is response from some of the 36 pastors of churches in Nizhny Novgorod.
Pastor Igor Voronin, Supervisor, Call Center, said, “This campaign was a great gift that shook the city and gave hope for change to thousands, tens of thousands. There was practically no one in the city that did not hear the message of the campaign.”
Yevgeni Blinov, pastor Jewish Congregation, stated, “For me personally this mission is a great blessing of God, as well as our whole congregation and our whole city. I respect our friends at IRR-TV. It is true that we could never have done this alone because we lack the ‘know how’. I am sure that we are just seeing the beginning of the fruits of this campaign.”
Pavel Rydish, Pastor, said, “This was a monumental project. This is the first time this has ever happened in the history of our city ! I have never seen a comparable evangelistic campaign in Nizhny.”
Aleksander Schmidt, Pastor, New Song-Church, said, “For me, this was a first as it was for many others as well. For the first time the whole city has heard the message that God changes lives !”
Aleksandr Kotshenko, Pastor, stated, “We had hoped for something like this, something that would move everyone in our city. Now it has happened. Thank you for making this possible. This is fantastic.”
Vladislav Miheyev, Pastor, Embassy of God, said, “Truly this campaign has had great impact in our city. Many people repented and turned to God. A great number had a chance to hear the Gospel and testimonies how God changes lives.”
Sergei Titovsky, Pastor, said, “This project showed in a wonderful way how our closed society was penetrated and became accessible through use of the media, outdoor ads, television, radio.”
Aleksander Sinitsyn, Pastor, Avtozavodsk, said, “One of our evangelists worked in the Avtozavodsk area. Her team had visited every home in the area but doors remained closed. Then came the mega city campaign. This area produced a lot of response. Right now this evangelist sister is following up 20 families. It is her second round.”
Yuri Vlasov, Senior Pastor Nizhny, said, “There have been many noteworthy events in the past 15 years in our church but this has to be one of the most significant. We have 450 addresses. Many of those on the list have already started attending Bible Study in small groups.
“It should be conducted in all cities of Russia like a giant wave that sweeps the country. I suggest it be done simultaneously from coast to coast, so that it would become the talk of our time on state television ! That it would shake the nation ! That people would understand and see that there is power in the Gospel, in faith in Christ to overcome all evil. Thank you for what you have done for us.”
Aleksandr Zaponkov, Pastor, Zarechaya area, stated, “Our plot on the harvest field is an industrial area with a high crime rate. Apartments have armored doors of steel. We had tried to minister there before. Thanks to this campaign those fortified doors opened up and we were able to minister to those people. Many have come out for Bible Study. Others have requested the Jesus Film.”