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Seminarians respond to call to take Gospel to Siberia

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–More than 150 students, faculty and staff at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary responded to a call to take the Gospel to Siberia during a special chapel service Jan. 26.

Siberia is one of three regions where Southwestern President Paige Patterson is leading the seminary community to focus intensive mission efforts over the next five years.

Issuing the call to Siberia were three men devoted to Gospel work in Russia: Yuri Sipko and Peter Mitskevich, respectively the president and vice president of the Baptist Union of Russia, and Vincent Price of the European Christian Mission International (ECMI).

Using a slide presentation, native-born Russian Mitskevich demonstrated that Russia is a nation of more than 145 million people, but only 250,000 are evangelical Christians. Only 100,000 are Baptists.

“This is really a mission field,” Mitskevich said. “Our dream and calling is that each town and village in Russia would have an evangelical church … that each pastor in Russia will have a theological education, and that each church will have its own building or place to meet. And we dream that each citizen of Russia will hear and receive the Good News of Jesus Christ.”

Sipko, speaking in Russian while Mitskevich translated, reminded the seminarians of the commission set before the disciples when Jesus declared, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

“Who will bring truth and light to Russia? Who is ready to go and set his foot on this frozen land? Who is ready to give his heart to die for Jesus Christ?” Sipko asked. “If our Christianity is not full of love and ready to sacrifice and go where Jesus is sending us, we have only an empty Christianity. I want to invite you to come to us. We love Jesus with fire, with passion. Cold Siberia has to become a light and warm place for the people to know Christ.”

Price, who was raised in Northern Ireland, is the international director of ECMI and based in England. ECMI is an interdenominational evangelical organization that plants churches and trains indigenous church leaders in 19 European countries, including Russia.

“I pray before you leave here today that God will break your heart, that God in His in mercy will burden your heart, that God will teach you to weep and cry out for men and women who have never, ever, even once, heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” Price said.

“In Russia there are multitudes, hundreds and thousands of towns and villages with no Gospel witness, no church, no preacher, no Jesus, no ‘for God so loved the world.’ They will never, ever hear unless someone goes and preaches the Gospel to them.”

Price warned that Siberia is not an easy place to live and work. He said he had preached in Siberia once wearing “a fur hat, scarf, gloves, boots and a fur coat” because the temperature was minus-50 degrees.

However, people “get saved in Russia the same way people get saved everywhere in the world: by faith in Jesus, and cleansed by His blood,” Price said. “It’s not ‘feel good.’ They come because they feel bad, and of themselves they can do nothing.”

Price said he is convinced that the Holy Spirit is moving in a mighty way in Siberia and throughout Russia. He gave examples of salvation testimonies and even physical healings as evidence of the movement of God there.

Price told the story of a new church’s dedication ceremony he attended in Siberia. Despite the frigid temperatures, Price said a large crowd of people was standing outside the church building. As he made his way inside to the pulpit, Price was amazed that people had crowded the aisles and many who had a seat had somebody else seated on their lap.

Price saw an elderly woman seated in the church who was weeping; she continued to do so throughout the two-hour service.

Later, Price asked the pastor about her. The pastor said that a few years ago she was the first person in the town to get saved. The pastor told Price that she began praying specifically for the salvation of people in her town.

“As she looked around that church, filled with hundreds of people, she wept,” Price said. “Everywhere she looked she saw a man or woman or young person that she had literally prayed into the Kingdom of the living God.”

The pastor told Price that she also had prayed that God would establish a church in the town, and that her tears were in gratitude for all that God had done to answer her prayers.

“I wonder what your plans are after you graduate with your degree,” Price said. “Are you going to hang your degree on the wall and look for a comfortable church? Or are you going to follow the call of Almighty God to take the Gospel of Jesus to the uttermost parts of the earth?”

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  • Marc Rogers