IN AUGUST 1991, COMMUNIST HARDLINERS led an unsuccessful coup in an attempt to seize power and close the doors of the Soviet Union. We think it’s fitting that the very next day after the coup failed, the first issue of Predvestnik (which means Forerunner or Herald) was printed in Moscow. It was truly the end of an old order and the dawning of a new day.
Since that time, 20 issues of Predvestnik have been produced in the former USSR. After printing the first issue at 100,000 copies, we received many warm responses telling us about its positive effects. The first issue was introductory in character and was mostly used in evangelism rallies throughout the former USSR. We presented the simple Gospel message of Jesus Christ. In the following quarterly issues, which had 16 pages and 20,000 copies each, we covered many deeper topics, including:
- Occult roots and bankruptcy of Marxism (at that time, when the Soviet Union existed, it was rather relevant);
- Cults, the occult and false religions;
- Authority and authenticity of the Bible;
- Creation vs. evolution;
- Philosophy of freedom and democracy;
- Analysis of the Orthodox Church and her positive and negative influences on our culture and society (the Orthodox denomination in Russia and Ukraine has much greater credit with the common people than the yet-weaker Protestant churches);
- History of Christianity.
Each issue contained inspiring and challenging articles, sermons and testimonies of famous teachers and ordinary Christians. The staff tried to keep readers informed of the latest news in the Christian world from all over the planet.
Our distribution network has been growing steadily and now consists of over 30 distributors in seven post-Soviet republics. Among these are individuals, as well as churches and ministries. From these centers, copies of Predvestnik are sent to even further reaches of the post-Soviet Union. We are aiming to expand distribution and to produce a bimonthly newspaper.
It is noteworthy that Predvestnik seems to be in favor with the three largest Protestant mainstreams in the former USSR: Baptists, Pentecostals and Charismatics. Although they have some disagreements between each other, churches of each movement are in the number of our distributors. This is possible because we have been trying to place the emphasis on Jesus Christ Himself and historical orthodoxy, rather than on ideas inherent in a single stream or denomination.
At the early stage of our history, we used many materials from foreign ministers for the newspaper, mostly from Americans. While we consider it important to communicate to our readers the rich heritage of Western Christianity, today it has become clear that people in our country are more responsive to a message which is based upon the Word of God and applied to their particular situation. That means we have to answer people’s needs through messages born in hearts of local Christians, those who know well about life here and the present conditions of our society. This is our main goal for the future: to be a competent source of meaningful, easy-to-apply information about the relevance of Christianity to daily life, from a sound biblical viewpoint.
We believe it would not be hype or exaggeration to say that Predvestnik is a unique publication. While various denominations in Christianity have their own publications in the former USSR, this newspaper stands out as a publication that tries to consider “global” Christianity, placing an emphasis on similarities, not differences, as many have testified. This makes the newspaper appealing and attractive to more people. Predvestnik has made its mark in its short existence. We are becoming well-known in many regions as a unique ministry. We understand that all this is due to God’s grace, to Whom we give all the credit.
The Predvestnik Staff
While studying computer science at Kiev Polytechnical Institute, Alexei oversees the printing, production and business transactions of Predvestnik.
An experienced Christian writer who has traveled extensively through the former USSR, Sergei is responsible for editorial content and distribution of Predvestnik.
Translation and production consultant
In addition to serving as a full-time translator for another Christian mission in Kiev, Roman is a translation and production consultant for Predvestnik.
Did You Know?
- Predvestnik has a wide distribution network covering about 100 regions in 11 post-Soviet countries. See if you can find the following cities where we have distribution centers on the map below:
RUSSIA: Moscow, Anapa, Arkhangelsk, Kalingrad, Kazan, Krasnodar, Murmansk, Naberezhnya Chelny, Nizhny Novgorod, Nizhnikamsk, Saint Petersburg, Samara, Sochi, Stavropol, Vologda
SIBERIAN RUSSIA: Barnaul, Irkutsk, Kemerovo, Khabarovsk, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Vladivostok, Yakutsk
UKRAINE: Kiev, Chernigov, Dnieprozherzinsk, Izmail, Lvov, Melitopol, Mukachevo, Rovno, Smela, Sumy
KAZAKHSTAN: Alma Ata, Temirtau
- We have also distributed in all three of the Baltic States, the Far East, Siberia, Moldava and even above the Arctic Circle! Predvestnik has the unique ability to reach many people groups in areas unreached with the Gospel.
- The former USSR has the seventh largest Muslim population in the world. Predvestnik is producing a special newspaper for use in reaching the Muslims in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kirghistan, Turkmenistan, Tadjikstan and along the Volga river valley.
- Russia has the largest Chinese border of any nation. We plan to reach China with a Chinese language version of The Forerunner. We will print this newspaper in Kiev; ship it to Chinese border cities such as Vladivostok; and carry it into China.
- Ukraine is the second largest nation in Europe (besides Russia) and has 53 million people (sixth in population after Russia, Germany, England, France and Italy). We have our widest distribution network in Ukraine covering all regions of the republic.
- There are 280 million people in the former USSR. Most of them are unreached with the Gospel. Predvestnik is expanding into the furthest reaches of the former USSR.
- There are 150 unreached people groups (or nations) in the former USSR – Over 90 percent speak Russian as a primary or secondary language. Predvestnik is having an impact on these unreached peoples.
NOTE: The above article was written in 1998. Since that time, The Forerunner has concentrated on the production of several books and videos in the Russian language as well as a few other missionary projects.