The Russians have always amazed me. When I visited this vast nation for the first time in the Summer of 1999 (Moscow, Togliatti and Irkutsk), and then again in November of that year, and February the year after, I met some incredibly dedicated workers, who wouldn't mind travelling long distances on snowy roads in incomfortable Ladas and unheated trains to bring Jesus to people. Years of economic hardship, bureaucratic pressure, discrimination, stalking by the secret police, and (in the communist times) persecution made them extremely resourceful.
I was reminded of this when Yevgeny, a blogger from Murmansk, mailed me. He works in arctic Russia (see some stories by late Eric Olson here), where on 14 May it was still snowing. His passion is to raise up and equip servant leaders in Russia, the Barents sea region and Arctic Europe.
Steve, an apostolic guy who regularly travels to Russia, mailed me an interesting anecdote this week, that illustrates the Russian perseverance in unlikely circumstances:
"When we went to Central Asia I asked how the gospel had first come to them. They replied that it had come courtesy of 'Apostle' Stalin. The phrase startled me and I asked them what they meant. They said that Stalin had sent out the first missionaries. He had arrested Christians around Moscow and sent them to Central Asia. About one third died on the journey. Another third died once they arrived since there were absolutely no provisions made for them. The remaining third survived and shared their faith with those around them. Did they suffer? Yes! Did Stalin have the last word? No! Jesus had the last word!"