Russian Baptists Evangelise Among the Deaf
S t. P e t e r s b u r g – The large-scale evangelistic campaigns of Russian Baptists have also addressed the deaf. A four-man mission team “expedition” has covered 12.000 kilometres, visiting 16 cities and 20 churches. Responsible for the effort was Ruslan Vasilyev, director of a centre for the deaf in St. Petersburg.
After the campaign was over, Vasilyev reported that talks had taken place with 550 non-Christian deaf; 11 of whom were converted. The project also had other results: Many people in traditional Baptist churches have revised their opinion of the deaf. Some congregations intend to minister to the deaf in a more serious fashion. Protestant congregations in Nizhni Novgorod, Kazan, Yekaterinburg, Omsk and Novosibirsk have already developed programmes for the deaf and some are translating their services into sign language. The importance of this effort was illustrated with numbers: there are only 12 Protestant believers among the 3.000 deaf in the West Siberian city of Tiumen.
The team was particularly enthused by an experience in Omsk. There, a deaf congregation of 60 people has formed. They meet – as did the New Testament church – nearly daily for prayer and fellowship. In Atshink (near Krasnoyarsk) the missionaries could observe the life-changing power of the Gospel. There two deaf thieves, known for spreading fear and distress over a wide area, had been converted. Today they proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.
The first two Russian expeditions took place during the past two years. The initial one addressed the unreached minorities particularly in Siberia; the second one attempted to reach those imprisoned in gaols and work camps.
Approximately 1.500 congregations with 90.000 members belong to the Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists in Russia.