Area: 17,075,400 sq km
The world’s largest country, extending across 9 time zones between the Baltic and the Pacific. The Russian Federation is composed of 83 administrative districts, including 46 oblasts (provinces), 21 republics, 9 territories, 4 autonomous okrugs, 1 autonomous oblast and 2 federal cities.
Population: 140,366,561 Annual Growth: -0.39%
Official language: Russian; local languages in autonomous republics Languages: 135 All languages
Largest Religion: Christian
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Evangelicals in Russia are in a time of both growth and pressure. Times have changed from the euphoria of the 1990s; in places such as St. Petersburg, non-Orthodox church attendance plateaued and may even be declining. The Church is settling in for the long haul as a small but significant minority. Much prayer is needed for:
a) Growth, which has occurred, but not consistently. Evangelicals have trebled since 1991, a feat all the more impressive given overall population decline. Some large charismatic mega-churches that started in the 1990s now have more than 4,000 in attendance; other congregations remain stuck in Communist-era survival mode. Since 1991, the number of congregations for some Christian networks has multiplied 30-fold. Pray for sustainable, balanced growth that matches quality with quantity.
b) Evangelical culture. With aggressive ingress in the 1990s, Western evangelists were often culturally insensitive and imported forms and styles harmful to shaping a mature Russian evangelicalism. Some groups remain unregistered; others prefer to cooperate with and even influence the government. Some reject Western forms of worship and practice; others take what they like and leave the rest. Some are traditionalist and conservative, others ambitiously progressive and modern. Pray that Church leaders might have the wisdom to guide Russias evangelicals into becoming truly Russian, while remaining truly biblical.
c) Church unity, deliberately targeted by Communists in the past and even by the government and Orthodox Church today. Tensions remain between Baptists and renewalists, and between old-school Pentecostals and newer charismatics. While church networks such as RUECB (Baptist), OTsKhVE (classical Pentecostal), ROSKyVeP and SKhVEP (Pentecostal/charismatic) and ACCR (charismatic) join many thousands of congregations among them, there is still no effective national-level body drawing together all Russian evangelicals. Pray for a Russian Evangelical Alliance, for the regional interdenominational committees and for the National Prayer Breakfast, all of which can play key roles in uniting believers.
d) The decline of the more-traditional Protestant groups, which had been rapid, especially since 1991. Many of the evangelical population under Communism were ethnically German now most Mennonites, many Lutherans and Baptists have emigrated to Germany. These more historic denominations held more respect from the Orthodox establishment, but their potential impact as a bridge disintegrated along with their plummeting numbers. Pray that those who remain would regain a heart for the Russian nation and its people and work toward the salvation thereof.
For an additional 10 Challenges for Prayer see Operation World book, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM.
The Operation World book, CD-ROM, and DVD-ROM provide far more information and fuel for prayer for the people of Russia.