“Let us go back and visit our brothers in every city where we have preached the Word of the Lord, and see how they are doing.” – Acts 15:36
KIEV, Ukraine (FR) – I just returned from Russia and Ukraine, having spent eight days in Kiev with Alexey Salapatov, the director of the new Russian language edition of The Forerunner called Predvestnik. We then travelled to Moscow to a Christian Youth International Conference attended by 1000 youth leaders.
Two new issues of Predvestnik have been produced since December by Alexey Salapatov, who is also a full time computer science major at Kiev Polytechnical Institute.
The first issue was printed in August in Moscow shortly after the attempted coup. 100,000 copies were soon distributed by members of Christian Youth International. Some went as far as Vladivostok; thousands were distributed in the Muslim republic of Kazakstan; others went to the Baltic States, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Siberia and the cities of the Far East.
The two last issues were printed at 20,000 copies each and the page size was doubled to 16 pages (as opposed to the eight-page Summer issue). On March 10, the third issue of Predvestnik rolled off the presses. There has been a dramatic improvement in the quality of the layout since the first issue.
Alexey believes that he will be able to turn a profit on either this or the next issue. He hopes to print eight issues this year and to begin to produce a monthly newspaper by January 1993.
The staff of Predvestnik has been expanded to include three full time workers and a part time graphic artist. Roman Medvid, another student at Kiev Polytech, serves as the copy editor. Vadim Urugamov is the circulation manager; and Vladimir Berendiv serves as the graphic artist.
Newspapers are ordered by the hundreds or thousands by youth leaders and they are able to sell them for a few rubles each. One man in Kiev sold 100 copies in less than 45 minutes! The last issue was over halfway sold out by the time I left for America.
One young woman from the city of Izhevsk distributed 10,000 copies of Predvestnik! She was able to sell most of the copies. She also included an invitation to her church in each one of the newspapers. As a result, 2000 visitors came to one church meeting! Many people came to know Christ that day. This testimony was related to the student leaders at the CYI conference in Moscow. The auditorium erupted in applause. Immediately thereafter thousands of copies of Predvestnik were ordered by student leaders.
Alexey received over 60 letters in response to the first issue, all of them positive. Most people have never seen a newspaper like this before and are happy to receive it. One man wrote that he had given his heart to the Lord after reading the article in the first edition of Predvestnik about Jesus Christ. He had formerly been a hardened atheist and a communist. Another man wrote to Alexey from prison. Now he is helping to establish a prison fellowship. He is distributing Predvestnik to the other prisoners.
Predvestnik is now being printed at the largest and most powerful newspaper press in the Ukraine. A formerly communist press did all the printing of the last two issues and at an even lower cost than the press we first used in Moscow. (The last two 16-page editions cost .8c each; while the eight-page Summer edition printed in Moscow cost 1.5c each.) Alexey has great favor with the director of the company and he is our friend now. When I met him last Summer this was not the case, but he has changed his attitude. It is a significant breakthrough that we are able to use this press.
The ability to print newspapers is not a problem now; the real challenge is establishing the circulation network for the newspaper. The goal is to make the newspaper profitable while steadily increasing the number of copies at each printing. Alexey has chosen to be conservative in his plan for growth. He is registering a printing business this month which will enable him to distribute newspapers through the kiosks (newsstands) throughout Russia and Ukraine. This alone could more than double the present circulation. Some other plans for distribution are also being tested.
If you would like to see a sample copy of the new 16-page Russian language Forerunner, or, if you are interested in supporting this work financially, write:
P.O. Box 1799
Gainesville, FL 32602