When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and the Soviet Union collapsed two years later, the world changed. Southern Baptists responded rapidly, sending hundreds of missionaries and thousands of volunteers to spread the Good News and help local Baptists.
Hundreds of millions in the former Soviet Union search for God but are ignorant of His love and mercy. Their hearts have been brutalized and corrupted, first by communism and later by the free-for-all greed that swept post-Soviet Russia and its satellite nations. Hearts literally are starving for the story of Jesus and the liberation that faith in Him can bring.
Fifteen years after its fall, many doors remain open. But they could close at any moment. Some doors already are shutting as governments in the region restrict ministries, deny visas, and send foreign workers home. Yet more than two hundred and eighty million people in three hundred and fifty unreached people groups — more than 90 percent of all people groups in the vast region — still don't know Jesus is Lord and Savior of all peoples, including them.
The time to pray passionately, to give sacrificially, to act boldly is now. Southern Baptist missionaries in the fifteen nations of the former Soviet Union rely on your giving through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions (2007 goal: $165 million), on your praying, and on your strategic partnership with the work.
International Mission Board workers in the former Soviet Union ask for hundreds of new missionaries, thousands of volunteers, and many local churches — like yours — to work side-by-side with them in telling the story of Jesus to all the peoples of this region of eleven time zones. They vitally need your growing financial support through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering to continue and expand the work.
The former Soviet Union is a volatile and sometimes chaotic region. Harsh regimes are returning in some nations. Secularism and hollow religious traditions dominate some areas; Islam is making a comeback in others. Telling the story of Jesus there won't be easy in the coming days, but has it ever been easy?
At this moment in history, much of the world presents us with the same challenge. Militant Islam and Hinduism, tribal religions, and secular ideologies still rule more than half of all humanity. The global population numbers 6.5 billion and rising. Of the world's more than eleven thousand people groups, more than six thousand — containing more than 1.65 billion people — remain unreached with the Gospel.
Yet, Southern Baptist missionaries and their partners are seeing amazing breakthroughs. Last year, they ministered among 1,170 people groups worldwide and engaged more than one hundred people groups — with a combined population of nearly one hundred million — for the first time. They started more than twenty-three thousand churches and baptized nearly half a million new believers — about 1,300 each and every day.
The Great Commission task is far from finished. And no great task is accomplished without sacrifice. Telling the story of Jesus to the world requires the participation, the passion, and the sacrifice of all Southern Baptist believers and churches.
"When I became a Christian, one of my questions was 'Why didn't this happen twenty years earlier?'" one Russian believer admits. "But now I thank God for that, because I can understand the man who is suffering. God has a plan — and I'm happy to be in the midst of it!"
What about you? God is moving through the former Soviet Union — and everywhere else in the world. How will you join Him in telling the story of Jesus?
• That ministry teams will find spiritual seekers among Moscow's masses.
• That God will pour out His Spirit in the hearts and minds of Muscovites.
• That Russian Baptist believers will plant many churches in greater Moscow.
• That ministry doors in the city will remain open as long as it takes for church-planting efforts to take solid root.