Missionary Expedition through Northern Siberia

Russian Expeditions No Longer a Novelty
New missionary expedition through northern Russia underway

M o s c o w – On 10 February a missionary expedition under auspices of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists (RUECB) got underway. This one is called „The Gospel for the Peoples of Siberia“; it began in Hanti-Mansiisk north of Tiumen in western Siberia. This is the 4th motorised tour under RUECB direction – but there are new developments nevertheless. Leonid Kartavenko (Moscow), now RUECB Director of Financial Services, reports: „For the first time it was not Moscow offices which got the idea for having a tour. Our sisters and brothers elsewhere wanted to do this by themselves. We are very pleased by that. But central offices have more experience and greater financial means. So we are needing to support them.“

This 4.000-kilometre tour involving a jeep and the massive, RUECB-owned Kamas lorry has three objectives. The first, northward-bound stage will stress evangelisation. The second stage heading east from Salehard just below the Arctic Circle intends above all to visit missionaries living in very remote and nearly-inaccessible locales. From Novii Urengoi southward via Surgut evangelistic meetings will again be the course of the day. New on this tour is also the plan to visit many non-RUECB congregations of Baptist orientation on the home stretch westward from Novokuznetsk in Siberia to Moscow. This last stage – one plans to end the tour in Moscow on 22 March – will be led by Pastor Valentin Vasilizhenko (Moscow). As Director of the “Public Council” umbrella organisa­tion uniting 10 Baptist denominations under one roof, he is well-informed on these other groups.

The vehicles will need to overcome very different terrains. The initial stage led by Superintendent Peter Zhuk (Ufa) is heading north for 1.500 km on the river Ob. The missionaries in the Far North can only be visited in the winter when the ground conditions are most stable. When again heading southward, the tundra will be replaced by the forests of the taiga. Leonid Kartavenko, who along with the music group “Living Drop” will be leading the tour from Noyabrsk to Novokuznetsk, expects the hardest driving conditions in the taiga. Roadless forests will demand zig-zag driving on the southward journey.

Not all arrangements have been finalized for the homeward journey from Nowokuznetsk to Moscow via Barnaul, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Kurgan Ufa, Naberezhnie Chelni, Kazan, Nizhnii Novgorod und Vladimir. Donations from congregations in larger cities will be needed to cover petrol and other travel costs. But Pastor Kartavenko is certain: “Our people have noticed that these programmes are needed. They will therefore be willing to make donations. We don´t need to go to great lengths any more to find co-workers. People announce their readiness themselves and are willing to cover their own tour expenses.”

Exact dates for this year´s bicycle expedition from Krasnodar in the south via Moscow to Murmansk in the Far North are not yet complete. Clear is that the tour should begin in Krasnodar in early July.

The RUECB, Russia´s largest unified Protestant church, represents 80.000 adult members in 1.750 congregations and groups. Its President is Yuri Sipko.

Dr. William Yoder
Department for External Church Relations, RUECB
Moscow, 13 February 2008

A release of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists. It is informational in character and does not express a sole, official position of RUECB-leadership.
Release #08-06, 498 words.