The recent situation with the churches in the Primosky Kray Region of far east Russia.
I am now enjoying my seventh visit over the last 12 years. Since my first visit in 2004 until this present visit the spiritual well-being of this region has suffered greatly. The church in Ugolnaya is reduced from over two hundred to a mere forty, due to a moral failure of the pastor. The church in Pokrovka has closed due to the pastor leaving for western Russia and a better life for his family. The church in Nakhodka is holding its own because of strong and faithful pastor. The church in Ussurysk is stable also because of a faithful pastor. My friend Pastor Oleg in Pogronichny is continuing to grow some. Oleg is a great pastor in his twentieth year at the same church he founded when he was nineteen.
Speaking with Pastor Michael of Nakhodka, he stated a number of reasons for the decline in the churches of this region. First he said the Pentecostal gospel they received from America had misled many of the pastors and those who, supposedly, were converted. They did not experience the health, wealth, and prosperity it promised and so in time the pastors as well as the supposedly converted abandoned the faith they preached and believed. Now the churches are void of pastors and the pews are empty. Sexual immorality has also taken its toll among the pastors. Because, as Pastor Michael says, there is little teaching on holiness and the law, so immorality is forgiven by simple repentance and thus “The churches are full of drunks and fornicators,” to quote Pastor Michael.
The other problem, the reason for my trip, is that the Bible School closed and no one is being taught or trained for the ministry. There are no prospective students to fill the empty pulpits or plant new churches in the region. I am met with the pastors Saturday October 22nd to try to persuade the Pastors to cooperate and consider reopening the Bible School. I brought a simple curriculum that could be used to train men and will be asking the Pastors to consider volunteering their time and coming to the school for a week at a time and to stay on campus to teach the classes. It is difficult to get these men to work together.
Please pray for the situation in the far east of Russia. Pray that the message will become more truly biblical and the pastors will cooperate for the sake of the churches in the future. If this does not happen I am afraid the future looks grim for the gospel in the far east.
Pastor Steven Graham
Pastor Steven Graham taking a walk through downtown Vladivostok.
In the summer of 2016, Pioneer Valley Baptist Chapel voted to provide the church in Ugolnaya with indoor restrooms. As you will see by the following few pictures they did a great job. They are very excited as they no longer have to go outside to the outhouse to use the restroom, especially during their hard winter months.
These are students of English at the Far East Federal University in Vladivostock.