Russia is the largest country in the world, covering about one-eighth of the inhabited land area on Earth. It is also the ninth most populous country with 143 million people. It spans nine time zones and incorporates a wide range of environments and landscapes, out of which it boasts the largest reserves of mineral and energy resources, the largest forest reserves, and one-fourth of the world’s liquid fresh water.The development of the Protestant movement (particularly, the Baptist movement) in Russia dates back to the mid-19th century and was particularly active in the south: in Ukraine, the Caucasus, and St. Petersburg. It was in the 19th century (1860-1880) that many Baptist churches were planted, building their faith exclusively on the doctrines of salvation by grace. Despite the active opposition from the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian authorities, the number of Baptists from 1884-1894 doubled. The year 1905 became a turning point for the Protestant church in Russia because all laws infringing on the rights of believers were abolished. This served as a powerful stimulus for the missionary and educational activities of Christian Baptists. Baptist missionaries and preachers traveled deep into Siberia and the Far East, preaching the Gospel and forming new churches.The October Revolution, which occurred in Russia in 1917, did not particularly affect the development and spiritual life of the Baptist church. The church continued to flourish and develop until the late 1920s, at which time began to experience persecution. The Soviet government issued a number of laws that were detrimental to believers and churches. Protestants were sent to the hard-to-reach areas of Siberia, and many others were forced to immigrate to the harsh northern regions. Churches were closed throughout Russia and many ministers and pastors were imprisoned.In the mid-1930s, the persecution of Christians in Russia was widespread and cruel as many believers were shot and killed. All Christian churches of all faiths were closed. Of the numerous Baptist churches in Leningrad and Moscow only one in each city remained open.Some historians say the Soviet authorities would have destroyed all the Baptists were it not for the opening of the Second Front of the Allied forces in 1944. One of the conditions for the opening of the front was that believers in Russia would have the right to profess their faith and the authorities would not persecute them. As a result, the Soviet authorities released the surviving Protestants from concentration camps and the Christians returned to their cities. However, it should be noted that Protestant churches continued to suffer persecution during the times of Presidents Khrushchev and Brezhnev. Relative freedom once again returned with the changes in the late 1980’s, when the Soviet Union ceased to exist. Relative freedom remains until today, though at times it appears precarious.Russia is a great and impressive nation in many ways; but greater still is the people’s bondage to sin and their self-inflicted hardships. In Russia, six out of every ten pregnancies end in abortion; 50% of marriages end in divorce; suicide rates are among the highest in the world; and drug use is epidemic. It is easy to see that the vastness of the country does not begin to compare with the depth of the overwhelming need of the people within it. The Russians need Christ desperately because the gospel is the appointed means God has chosen to save the dying and perishing.
Sources: Wikipedia and Operation World