MOSCOW (FR) – Under a new law guaranteeing religious freedom, new indigenous missions are beginning to emerge throughout the Soviet Union in an effort to evangelize their own people and extend the gospel to this country’s millions of unreached people. The long-awaited revisions to the Soviet law on religion, ratified in August 1990, could not have come at a more timely moment in the history of the Soviet Union.
One of the most exciting developments concerning this new freedom is that the university campuses are now open to Christians. In the past, the Institutes and Universities of the Soviet Union included the elite students of the nation but were closed to Christians. Not only are Christians now allowed to study at the universities, but the campuses are even inviting in Christian speakers, taking advantage of their newfound religious freedom.
This year may be the most crucial time to begin Christian student groups, as a great deal of interest in the novelty of religious freedom has permeated all of Soviet society.
Before a recent meeting in an exciting new church in Moscow, featuring American youth evangelist Bob Weiner, Komsomolskaya Pravda (a major communist newspaper) ran a front page story encouraging the Soviet people to attend. The publicity brought an additional 500 people to the meeting at which there were 200 people who received Christ with many noted miracles.
A number of prominent television stations also covered the meeting, including Good Evening Moscow, a popular Soviet program. The youthful enthusiasm of the worshippers was noted by showing the charismatic style of dancing, clapping and joyfulness. The program contrasted the meeting with the Russian stereotype of drab, irrelevant religion. Coverage like this has sparked a national fascination with Christianity.
This spiritual revival began in 1987, when the Russian Orthodox church celebrated the millennium of Christianity in Russia. At that time, the government “tested the waters” of religious freedom, by returning some church buildings, granting new freedoms, and allowing Western evangelists to visit the country.
According to one American businessman who attended the meeting in Moscow: “There is now unprecedented freedom of religion in the Soviet Union.” This freedom has now been extended to the schools and universities.
Campus evangelism has begun!
On April 3-7, a five day evangelism and church planting training seminar, sponsored by Bob and Rose Weiner Ministries International, will be held in Moscow to equip hundreds of select Soviet Christian students to reach their campuses.
Out of 60 potential campus workers interviewed in March, fifteen were selected who will be visiting hundreds of cities throughout the Soviet Union. These workers will be interviewing thousands of university students from all across the 9 time zones of the USSR and will be choosing 300 of the most outstanding Christian students to attend the April leadership seminar in Moscow.
Bob’s vision is also to put a Russian Bible into the hands of every university student in the Soviet Union. Over 200,000 New Testaments have been obtained thanks to the tremendous cooperation of Terry Law Ministries and Mission Possible, Inc.
Four popular Bible study books, including Bob and Rose Weiner’s Bible Studies for a Firm Foundation, have been translated into the Russian language and 100,000 of these 200 page workbooks are being printed for use on the campuses. After the April training seminar, the students will go back to their campuses with almost a thousand New Testaments and over 300 work books each.
On an ironic note, the Bible Study workbooks are being printed on a communist printing press in Moscow. The Russian New Testaments are being printed at a cost of less than 50c each on a printing press in Communist China – the same press that was used to print millions of Chairman Mao’s “Little Red Books.”
The goal of Bob’s newly formed organization, Christian Youth International, is to release hundreds of youth workers to the campuses of the Soviet Union. Christian Youth International is working in cooperation with several other ministries dedicated to reaching Soviet youth and planting churches on the major university campuses.
One cooperating missionary, Daniel Williams, President of Calvary Ministries International, has begun a Bible College in Riga, Latvia, which is currently training over 130 students. These students will be attending the Moscow evangelism and church planting training seminar in April. This summer, Christian Youth International will be working with Calvary Ministries in an effort to plant 18 churches in the Soviet Union.
While in the Soviet Union, Bob had unlimited opportunities to preach unhindered to thousands of university students. International students and young military trainees from every communist nation in the world are sent to the Soviet Union each year by the thousands.
There is in Moscow alone an unprecedented opportunity to win young people to Jesus Christ from every yet unreached communist nation in the world. Thousands of young Cubans, Ethiopeans, North Koreans, Vietnamese and many others from every communist nation in the world are gathered on the university campuses of the Soviet Union or are there serving their terms of military training.
The university campuses are perhaps the greatest resource for shining the light of the gospel to Soviet society and the communist world. Reserved for an elite few, the campuses provide a microcosm of future Soviet leadership who will be the most influential men and women in that culture. It is imperative that Christians begin to reach the campuses this year.
There will be literally hundreds of opportunities opening to go to the Soviet Union as a part of a church planting team this year. Every major campus will be evangelized in the 1990s and there will be a campus ministry established on each one of these universities.
If you would like to support this great work financially, or if you would like to know about opportunities to go to the Soviet Union this year as a part of a church planting team, contact:
Bob and Rose Weiner Ministries, Int’l
P.O. Box 1799
Gainesville FL, 32602
Phone: (904) 375-4455
FAX: (904) 375-6000