The Eurasian Mission college students visited Yoshkar-Ola, the Mari El capital, to work with a local church in witnessing to the Mari people, who have been labelled as the ‘last pagans of Europe’. Click here for a bit more information on the Mari people.
Whilst evangelising, civilians took photos, video recordings and questioned them about what they were doing. Later the church with which the students were placed received a letter summoning them to court, accusing them of breaking the Yarovaya law. A considerable size fine was threatened, and after the initial hearing it was not looking good for the church. However, in the final stage, the church was acquitted of any wrong doing – praise God!
Please do pray for the conversations that the students were able to have sharing their faith in Jesus, in what is a very difficult and closed region for evangelism.
Here is a report from one of the students – excuse the imperfect English…
” I want to tell you about the most vivid impression of the gospel in Mari el. We travelled to a remote village. The road took more than 2 hours. I was met by my Z____ and her neighbor N____. I was taken home, we drank tea, talked. Neighbor N____ repented that day. The next day in the morning, N____ went with us to preach the gospel. We went to the house of her friend. Then N____ stayed there, and we went to other houses.
I realized how it’s better to talk about Christ in Mariel. It is necessary that there is a resident of the village, who is well known in the village. With him to walk on his friends. Z____ worked all her life at school and lived in this village and people respected her. People met her very warmly. No one asked why an outsider is with you. Accepted me as her.
Of course, not all the meetings were immediately open. But during the conversation people began to open. For example, we went into one house. It was already the third house that we visited on this day. The woman who lived in this house, at this time watching TV and preparing food. The conversation did not work out. She watched TV and sometimes turned to us. Then I suggested:” Let us pray for your needs”. The woman reacted aggressively. Then I got up and went to the exit. “Perhaps we should go”- I said, and began to put on my coat. I said:”Goodbye, thank you for accepting us in my house.” The woman suddenly came up to me and took off my coat. “No, you will not go now, -she said. – First you eat with us.” I said” good”. We began to talk again. But the conversation did not work. Then I again decided to leave and put on my coat again. This woman came up and for the second time took off my coat and did not allow me to leave. We again began to talk, and then she treated us with delicious food. We were able to tell about ourselves and about Christ”.
Another very open and honest account from a student doing outreach in another location… (again, excuse imperfect English)
“Every day I traveled from Agryz to Udmurtia. Our shoe repair shop was inside of the building of a large supermarket. One day I went to the supermarket. In the store, I saw a man who looked sad. I spoke with him, why are you so sad. We talked. He spoke more, asking about my nationality. I said that I am an Ossetian. After short dialogue he said goodbye and left. I followed him. I wanted to tell him about Christ, but at the same time I could not find the courage to do it.
But then I caught up with him, asked two questions. The questions were: Where do you go after death? Why should God accept you?
I said this and quickly turned and went the other way. At this time, thoughts began to form in my head. Why did not you wait for an answer? If he dies tomorrow, you will be to blame for not telling about Christ. I stopped, thought for a minute, and again went towards that man. But this man was already out of sight.
After 3 days I went again to this supermarket and again met this man. We started talking again. At first he spoke the answers to my questions, then I thought I was speaking quietly, but it turned out that everyone heard me. I did not notice how I began to speak loudly about Christ. It turned out that the entire supermarket heard this. It attracted people’s attention. When I went to the checkout, the seller said, tell me too. I began to talk about Christ to the seller. When I finished the conversation, I went to the exit. At the exit was a security guard who had been watching me all this time. I asked him why are you looking at me like that? He asked, are you a Christian? I said yes and smiled and left the store”.