New Testaments for Russia
October 17, 2013
Over 130,000 New Testaments have been handed out this year in Russia and Ukraine.
Most American families have at least one Bible in their homes. They may even have two or three copies that, sadly, are rarely opened and may merely serve as dust collectors on a corner book shelf.
But imagine how you would feel if the precious Word of God was suddenly and forcibly removed from your home, deemed a threat to the culture and declared illegal by the government?
That’s what happened in Russia following the 1917 revolution, when communist leaders outlawed religion and boldly proclaimed the eventual eradication of Christianity. New rules imposed throughout the newly-formed U.S.S.R. mandated that churches be closed and Bibles and other religious literature destroyed.
A three- to five-year jail sentence was the penalty for an individual found with a Bible—or even a page of the Bible—in his or her possession.
For 70 years Christians hid Bibles—under floor boards, inside mattresses, wherever they could find a safe place. Some resorted to making handwritten copies to share with other believers.
After political and social reforms were instituted in the 1980s and religious freedoms returned, believers were excited to gather for public worship. They especially yearned to read the Scriptures and rejoice in the triumphant message of the verse, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40: 8, NKJV).
Today the Word of God is printed in the former Soviet Union republics, and the power of the gospel continues to transform individuals, families, and entire communities.
Erasing the effects of atheism is not automatic, however, and many areas lack a witness for Christ. In Russia alone, 130,000 villages and small cities are still without any Christian church. In Ukraine, there are some 25,000 villages with no believers or churches.
Christian Aid Mission is partnering with church leaders to oversee an exciting project that involves sending missionary teams to each of these villages to preach, witness, and leave four New Testaments.The ministry would like to provide 520,000 copies in Russia and 100,000 copies in Ukraine.
A Russian woman named Svetlana committed her heart to Christ after reading a New Testament given to her daughter. Svetlana wrote the following letter of thanks to the missionaries who came to their village:
Sharing one’s faith was illegal during the communist era.
“On the day when you all came to our town and shared the gospel with us, I realized many things. It is not all as bad as we thought. Thanks to you and your help in leading us in a prayer of repentance for our sins, I have found God. No matter how hard my life is, I believe that everything will be all right. Reading through the book of the New Testament which you gave to my daughter, going through each chapter, I am so glad that I turned to God. Now I know I’m not alone. God will guide me. My faith in Jesus will take us through life and my children and I are happy. My daughter and I often pray to God. We know that He hears our prayers. I believe God will protect my younger son, and that my older son will not get in trouble on the streets.
I need the Bible. Please send me a copy, if you can. I would be happy if you continue to write to me. Thank you that you have helped me to open my heart for God. I will be praying for you.”
In the last year over 120,000 New Testaments have been purchased and distributed. One copy costs $1.25 to purchase and deliver, so $5 places four New Testaments in one village.
The books are being delivered by 200 young missionaries (many college-aged) who have committed to devote one year of their lives for the gospel. As part of a new generation of believers, they are excited to help point their culture back to the Bible and back to Jesus Christ.
- For the “One Year for Jesus” project to reach its goal of distributing New Testaments to every village lacking a church in Russia and Ukraine
- That the New Testaments will encourage people to delve deeper into the riches of God’s Word
- For the young missionaries to be a light for Christ in their future careers and endeavors