Spreading the Gospel Near the Top of the World

August 21, 2012

In May, Slavik Radchuk, the Ukrainian born Area Director in charge of former Soviet Union states for Christian Aid, visited the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District in northern Siberia. Scattered around the region are 1.5 million people. Conditions in this region are brutal, most people live in yurts, a portable, bent wood-framed dwelling structure that is covered in felt, and in the wintertime temperatures can reach to -60 degrees below Celsius. Primarily people earn a living through hunting and fishing. Many people are heavy drinkers, and due to harsh living conditions the majority of the population does not reach age 50.

Historically the area has been the home of the Khanti People Group who are closely related to the Hungarians. They were conquered by the Russians in the sixteenth century and Russian settlers flooded the area, squeezing the Khanti to the outskirts of their own territory. Khanty-Mansi has become quite important to Russia since the discovery of rich deposits of oil within its´ boundaries in the 1960´s. Once again a rush of immigrants has flooded the region, this time to work in the oil fields.

Slavik visited Nizhnevartovsk, the second largest city in Khanty-Mansi and located along the river Ob, where he was warmly welcomed by the local congregation. There are over 30 churches in the Khanty-Mansi region, each of them operated by local indigenous leaders. Slavik reports that the church members are very hospitable.

Church leaders in Nizhnevartovsk want to train up new leaders via the Video Bible School, a program which produces training videos to teach new church leaders how to become effective missionaries in their area. They hope to implement the program in over 20 churches.

Even though there has been remarkable progress in this area since the fall of the Soviet Union, much more work remains to be done. Please continue to support the ministry of Slavik and indigenous ministries throughout the former Soviet Union.