Since 1988, the year when the Soviet Union celebrated the “Millennium of Christianity” in Russia, religious groups have enjoyed comparative freedom and many churches have taken full advantage. Many existing churches have doubled or tripled in size since then; the vast majority of the new converts are under the age of 30; a growing number of Christian school teachers are introducing Jesus into the classroom; and many new churches are being planted to accommodate the surging tide of salvation.
There are also some serious problems to be countered by Christians; rather than coming into unity after years of persecution, many churches continue to be divided; and many cults, such as the Hare Krishnas, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Unification Church, are also gaining new members.
On a positive side, Soviet leaders are meeting frequently with missionary evangelists; and laws have been passed which allow churches to establish missionary training schools which may incorporate foreign exchange programs as a part of their training.
According to one young Soviet Christian we interviewed: the greatest needs for the church are “mature servants who will come to the Soviet Union and do the work of pastors, evangelists, teachers, etc. to equip the new converts. Most of the Christians in Russia are new believers who want to work in the ministry. We need ministers from America to start new churches and shepherd the flock and to train people in local churches to be pastors.”