Thank you for your support of our recent short-term mission experience to Russia! Your gift helped PTS students and others to experience God’s work in the Russian context, where the Orthodox Church is still rebuilding after the fall of Communism. PTS student Joanne Spence reflects on the resilience she witnessed in the Orthodox community:
“During our second-to-last day in Russia, we had a three-hour lecture at St. Tikhon’s Orthodox University on Russian Church History in the Twentieth Century. I was struck by several things from this period. Beginning with the advent of the Revolution in 1918, the Church was severely reduced. Just prior to the Revolution, there were 50,000 parishes, 24,000 chapels, 1000 monasteries, 60 seminaries, and 4 theological academies. By the end of 1960s, the Church was reduced to 7,000 parishes, 16 monasteries , 3 seminaries, and 2 theological academies (Holy Rus', 33). According to Kallistos Ware, there were more martyrs in the 30-year period following the Revolution than in the first three hundred years of Christianity. Clearly, the Church in Russia has endured much. Yet, the signs of life are everywhere.
These signs were never more evident than in the faces of the twenty-something St. Tikhon students who met with our group so they could practice their English. One of them had shared with me that 90% of Russians identify as Orthodox, yet only 3% attend weekly services. When I asked my new, young friends how they might address this gap, Ivan – one of the young students – said he will reach people by singing beautiful music. Maria wants to reach her fellow Russians though her art. Naydia plans to teach young Russians about their own history through Russian Literature. Each seems eager to shine the light of Christ in their own particular way. I expect it is through these young lives that the power of the great tradition found in Orthodoxy will continue to invite fellow Russians, and indeed the world, to a life in Christ. I know I am changed for the better by their example.”
Thank you for your support, which enables trip participants to have life-changing experiences such as these! We encourage you to sign up for our WMI e-newsletter, which includes helpful mission resources and information about upcoming WMI initiatives and short-term mission experiences.