For a thousand years, the largest country on earth has been a source of mystery and greatness. Russia has suffered oppression and won great victories. She has bred great leaders (and some notorious dictators); she was instrumental in the fall of Napoleon and Hitler. Since the early 1990s, Russia has struggled to regain her soul after 70 years of militant atheism, even as she tries to embrace the new Post-Soviet-era economy.
Russia’s people are as diverse and mysterious as her history. There are over 100 people groups within the borders of the Russian Federation, speaking their own languages and worshipping in a half dozen religions. These are people of rich culture, language and tradition – the most beloved Russian is a great poet, Pushkin, who lived almost 200 years ago. At the same time, individuals wrestle within themselves to find their place in a society that is promoting many of the secular values which dominate the West’s market-oriented ideas. As the Russian Orthodox Church strengthens its place of influence, it faces the same temptations encountered by every religious hierarchy favored by its national government. The Evangelical Church, which grew rapidly in the early nineties, struggles against division within and much opposition without. And yet its young people are, for perhaps the first time, opening their eyes to ministry opportunities beyond Russia’s borders.
Bible translation is ongoing in the Russia Federation in dozens of languages. Wycliffe Russia was formed in 2000 and has been actively sending personnel to places of need in Africa and southern Asia since 2002. The Bible Society of Russia (www.biblia.ru/), part of the United Bible Societies, is actively promoting Scripture use in this vast country.