After the chaotic collapse of Communism in the 1990s, life for the 144 million people who call Russia home is now materially better. But freedoms remain stifled, the business climate is challenging, and millions still struggle against poverty and ill-health. A whole, wasted, educated generation is opting out of political or civic participation.
The Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) survived Communism and remains the major symbol of Russian identity. However, along with smaller Christian groups, it endured terrible persecution, and between 1920 and 1990, up to 200,000 church leaders died as martyrs (as well as even more parishioners).
The fall of the Iron Curtain opened the whole former Soviet Union, including Russia, to evangelism and Church planting and the rebirth of a Christian society. The number of people identifying as atheists fell by more than half. The global Church responded with evangelistic enthusiasm (though not always with wisdom or cultural sensitivity).
Evangelicals have tripled in number to about 1.2% of the population and are making a place for themselves within Russian religious culture. Many churches, especially the newer ones, have big goals for evangelism and Church planting. Yet open ministry and religious freedom get harder; disunity and shortage of leaders are problems.
- Pray for a Russian renewal and renaissance centred around a faith in Christ.
- Pray that all that is best about Orthodoxy’s 1000-year history will thrive and influence culture and society.
- Pray that the ROC will make peace with other Christian groups rather than seeing them as a threat.
- Pray that the many difficulties will, through Christ, serve to strengthen all the different streams of Christianity in Russia.