Reports from Russian Churches
BORIS OLEINIK OF THE CITY OF KIROV
In 1986 Boris was conscripted into the Soviet Army for military service. His unit was sent to the disaster at the Chernobil nuclear power station. He suffered perilous levels of radiation.
Earlier this year lumps began to appear on his body which grew and became increasingly painful as well as sores and rashes on his skin. His wife, Nadya, was suffering debilitating headaches almost continuously. Greatly concerned we asked if they had been to the doctor for his opinion. They were both told to go to the local cancer hospital for tests. The consultant’s fees were quite beyond their means so they were turned away. We immediately sent the relatively small sum required and the tests were duly carried out. We were very relieved to hear that they were all negative.
Since that time we have been able to help them financially each month and parcels containing food and vitamin tablets are being sent. We also made it possible for them to have a proper summer holiday in the sun for the first time in several years. The Lord has thus enabled us to meet the needs of his servants in answer to their prayers.
This is a recent letter:
Dear brother in Christ, Roger and also sisters and brothers, Peace be to you and blessing from our Lord Jesus Christ!
It’s been fourteen years already since our family started this ministry in Russia, Kirov district. At the time there was only one small church, because all others were ruined by the authorities under the Soviet power. At the present time there are 12 churches and 6 groups in different towns of our district. The Lord planted them through us (my brother Anatoly his family and my family).
We came from the south of the former Soviet Union – the Caucausus mountains region. Things were amazing and wonderful in those days (about 15 years ago). People were very open for Christ and his saving grace. We were constantly preaching the gospel in many places. Then the time came when we had to start building our own house of prayer, because the authorities did not allow us any more to gather in other places. Therefore in many towns our buildings were either bought or built for gathering together to worship the Lord.
And now is the time for us to try to strengthen Christians in their faith and discipleship. I am pastor-missionary, but my goal is to create a discipleship ministry in each church of our district. Young believers must be encouraged in the Lord and be ready for missionary work in the future. Great efforts must be done for this. We need to visit churches and teach leaders on discipleship. Please pray for the development of this ministry.
There are four churches in Kirov. All find it difficult to pay the heating bills because our winters are very cold and long. Our church has 105 members, who came to the Lord not more than 14 years ago, some of them even less. Every year we do summer camps for children. This year in the beginning of July we ran this camp in our church building. There are forty orphanages and boarding schools in our city. Children always want to see us when we come to visit them. Also we do camps for teenagers, where they live in tents and hear about the Lord. I do some seminars for young families and we are trying to invite families of non-believers.
Also we would like to make Sunday lunches for children and for families who have many children. Please pray for our family. I have to have an operation on one of my eyes and also I need medical treatment for the psoriasis on my legs. My wife Nadya needs treatment for her back. May the Lord fulfil all your needs. We also pray for you.
THE CHURCHES IN SIBERIA
Pastor Alexander Boichenko and his wife Dina came to the Siberian city of Tiumen some thirteen years ago to pioneer a new church in very difficult physical and economic conditions. The church is located in one of the poorer areas of the city, so their members are correspondingly drawn from the poorer classes of Russian society. This has made it impossible for them to fund their own full-time workers. During the last nine years we have been able to help several such. Currently we support Pastor Boichenko and five part-time workers, three of whom pastor small meetings in settlements outside the city. Pastor Boichenko writes:
We thank the Lord that in answer to our prayers new people are often visiting our church and we rejoice that they are open to the gospel. But with all of them it is necessary to spend much time, as they come from sinful lives and have to break with many enslaving evil habits. Again during the past year we have held two multiple baptismal services. In spite of a generally hostile attitude to wards us on the part of Russian society as a whole, we are still allowed to visit hospices for the dying and children’s homes in one of which we have a fruitful long-standing relationship. We specially ask you to remember us in your prayers for the following matters:
– Our church building has been attacked twice during the night. In the first incident they damaged our building and in the second our caretaker was beaten-up by intruders and suffered concussion. We suppose it is the work of young hooligans under the influence of drugs which are all too freely available in our city. Our small meetinghouse in the settlement of Borovoye was broken into again, chairs smashed and the walls desecrated. The Orthodox Church has been very much opposed to our opening a work in this small town, and we suspect they have a hand in these aggressive acts of vandalism to try to deter us from preaching the true gospel.
– We have heard that the new law concerning all ‘social and non-commercial organisations’, has now been promulgated. This definition of organisations applies to us as a church. It allows local authorities the freedom to interpret the law as they see fit concerning our legal and political rights! This gives them complete flexibility to deal with any ideology or specific local circumstances. It is an astonishing abrogation of the most basic principles of common justice. They can allege almost anything they like about us, in order to say we are acting contrary to the law as they understand and interpret it!
– The economic situation in Western Siberia has deteriorated markedly in recent months. High inflation and the cost of transporting essential basic commodities to Siberia have meant that many prices are now equivalent to those in the West whilst wages, already low, have not increased. This particularly affects our church-workers whom you have kindly been helping for several years. The cumulative effects of these yearly increases should please be taken into account if our workers are to continue in their ministries in Tiumen.
– Please remember the continuing problem we have in trying to adequately heat our building during the long Siberian winters. With temperatures well below zero for long periods of time and high costs of fuel, we need to use the cheapest method possible, in this case, natural gas. But the installation cost to bring the piped supply to our district is extremely high, approximately £18,000/$35,000.
There are also several very poor families and widows, who through the church in Tiumen, are helped materially. Here are details of two of them:
NADEZHDA ABDUKARIMOVA is thirty four years of age with two children, a girl of ten and a boy of seven. Her husband left her eight years ago to bring up the children on her own. Unfortunately she has no home and no money to rent one. She manages to survive in a poor village thirty miles from Tiumen in an old wooden cabin. People there allowed her to live in it temporarily on condition she looks after it. There is no school there, so her children travel seven miles each day to a neighbouring village where there is one. She has been visiting our church for more than a year and has found the Lord. Although very poor she has a strong faith. Early on Sunday morning she goes out onto the road and prays for someone to stop and take her to Tiumen so she can spend the day at church. When Sunday school is over at six in the evening she and her children wait prayerfully on the road for someone to take them home again. She tries to find employment but so far only temporarily. Our communal fund is very small so we can provide very little in the way of support for her. We present her case to you hoping you may be able to help her if possible.
LIDIA PIREVA is a widow aged seventy-seven and lives in a tiny room in one of the city’s hostel blocks for poor people. Her room is 13 feet x 10 feet and is without water, toilet or any cooking facilities. There is a communal room for all these things at the end of her dimly lit corridor shared by more than twenty people. Pastor Boichenko says that whenever he visits people existing in such conditions his heart weeps for them, and he feels anguished that his church can do so little to relieve their pinching poverty. She has a daughter, also a widow, living in similar circumstances of poverty in another hostel with two children. She is therefore unable to help her aged mother. Lidia is in poor health and needs medical help but has no money to pay for it. However she is strong in faith and at all times humbly trusts in God. It’s very pleasant to have fellowship with her as she always has a happy spirit and is never depressed. The Lord prompts us, says Pastor Boichenko, to intercede on behalf of such needy saints. May God help!
Roger Weil is the secretary of the Slav Lands Christian Fellowship, 28 Hayesford Park Drive, Bromley, Kent, BR2 9DB.
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