The former Soviet Union’s Year of the Bible 2004 will hit its halfway mark as the month of June comes to an end. Since the conception of the 12-month awareness campaign, “God has united the leaders of more than 18 denominations around the Bible,” said Robert W. Cole, Bible League’s president, upon returning from Russia. “It’s still gaining momentum six months after the project launched.”
So far, encouraging results have been seen though the project intended to spur Christians into daily Bible reading, and to introduce God’s Word to millions more in ten former Soviet Union countries by the year’s end.
Church leaders are hoping that Year of the Bible will help counter growing problems in a post-Communist society, where the lure of materialism, a battered economy, and eroding family relationships are cooling the passion for God’s Word.
According to Bible League's Regional Director in Volgograd, the project is meant to increase people's interest in studying the Bible, and educate them about its relevance in today's society. “We want to get Christians to blow the dust off their Bibles and read them daily,” he said.
The latest reports of ongoing events have shown encouraging results for the Year of the Bible 2004.
According to reports, an inter-denominational Christian forum was formed during a conference, where many churches—represented by about 700 people in attendance—agreed to study the Bible and pray together. They are now working together to reach the lost in their community.
Also, a 90-person interdenominational prayer group is holding 90-day prayer vigils. Each day, one person prays for the positive impact of the Year of the Bible, and for specific concerns. After 90 days, the cycle begins again.
Churches in Novosibirsk, Siberia organized an advertising campaign to promote Year of the Bible 2004. As one church leader expressed, “Year of the Bible 2004 will help us recover the spiritual soul of our city, and restore lost moral principles.”
Meanwhile Russian libraries obtained their first Bibles to make available to patrons. “We never had a Bible in the Library before because the Communist government never provided one,” wrote one librarian.
With the involvement of at least five denominations, Bible League expects to introduce God's Word to 2.5 million in southern Russia alone—many for the first time throughout the year.
The former Soviet Union's Year of the Bible was conceived in late 2002 as the Bible League's Regional Director in Volgograd was listening to his car radio and heard a brief mention of Germany's “Year of the Bible 2003."
“I knew it was a great idea—a whole year dedicated to the Bible!” he said.
Year of the Bible 2004 is now a reality in Russia, as well as in nine other former Soviet countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan).
The Volgograd staff hopes Year of the Bible 2004 will inspire other nations to pick up the project in 2005. “We want to pass the ‘Year of the Bible' baton on to someone else,” said the Regional Director.