A nine-month evangelistic campaign covering 25,000 miles of territory across Russia’s vast expanse is two months away from concluding. For the month of June, missionary teams part of “Gospel Expedition ‘04”, will be making their way through the cities such as Ufa, Orenburg, Penca, and Makhachkala.
Russian church leaders, pastors, church-planting missionaries and other church workers with the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists (UECB) are participating in what is believed to be the largest missionary journey in the 136-year history of the UECB. Gospel Expedition ’04, “The Expedition” in short, is a seven-month effort sponsored by the Slavic Gospel Association in which Russian Christians have joined to help local churches reach their fellow countrymen for Christ.
“The way that they’ve been doing this they’ve been sort of trading off in shifts. They’ll have one team that will go into a region and they will spend three weeks doing that, then they hand off to another group of workers,” said Slavic Gospel’s Joel Griffith.
One of the cities that the teams will be visiting is Makhachkala, which is a Muslim area of Dagestan in southern Russia across from the war-torn area of Chechnya. “It’s really going to be great that they can get the Gospel into this region,” Griffith stated.
According to Griffith, there are up to 160 different ethnic groups in Russia and the response to “The Expedition” has been mixed. “Some areas have been very open arms to the Gospel expedition; others have been a little more resistant,” Griffith said. But more often than not, the responses so far have been positive.
“It’s amazing the way that some of the outlying areas even the authorities have embraced ‘The Expedition,” Griffith commented. “I think only time will tell the eternal impact that this has had, but I’ll tell you it’s really made a strong impression in a lot of local regions and it certainly was a shot in the arm to some of the local smaller churches.”
The Expedition, schedule to stop at 175 cities across Russia will be making its final stop in Briansk around July 27. It has been five months since the effort first launched in Moscow on December 21, 2003.