Against the backdrop of a just-enacted law banning Soviet government restriction of religion, more than 1,000 evangelical delegates from all 15 of the sprawling republics of the Soviet Union and 24 other countries around the world gathered in Moscow for the USSR’s first-ever interdenominational Congress on Evangelization. The five-day event at the end of October was pulled together with shoestring finances, a skeleton staff, and a short-notice change in conference dates.
Yet the congress, which turned away many applicants for lack of space and funds, was a sign that Soviet believers are ready to commit themselves to recovering the spiritual ground lost during 70 years of state-imposed atheism. At the same time, there is also strong evidence, from the Baltic States to the Black Sea and from Ukraine to the Siberian hinterland, that evangelism is already taking on new vitality. Soviet Christians are grabbing new opportunities to proclaim the gospel openly, hold youth rallies, publish literature, form university groups, preach on the streets, reach out to Muslims, and minister in prisons, hospitals, and retirement homes.
For example, the Light of the Gospel mission in the Ukrainian city of Rovno has new status as a “public organization,” and plans to build a new office, training center, and hotel on a plot of land the city has given the group. Next year, according to president Sergei Tupchik, Light of the Gospel will open the first independent evangelical educational institution in the Soviet Union. In the fertile Maikop region, run-down buildings rented from a state collective farm are being spruced up by Logos Bible Institute for a 100-student residential Bible college.
On the coast of the Black Sea, in Odessa, ...1
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