“There are a good number of Russians whose religion is their country,” said Adam Knight*, a church planter with the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) International Mission Board. That nationalistic devotion led to the persecution of many Christians during Russia’s communist era, he added. It had a chilling effect on evangelism that still lingers in the church.
Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, Russia.
Knight is asking American Christians to pray for their Russian brothers and sisters to boldly take risks for the gospel, because that’s “exactly what Jesus calls us to do.”
Knight and his family were commissioned as missionaries for a second term as part of the “Sending Celebration” June 13 during the 2017 SBC annual meeting in Phoenix, Ariz.
They’ve spent the past three years in various cities across Russia, including Moscow.
Knight told the Biblical Recorder his ministry strategy is to “be creative with how we go about meeting people but be really simple and straightforward in how we disciple them.”
He rejects “flashy methodologies” in favor of “word-based obedience through evangelism and Bible study.”
Knight describes Russians as “wonderful people … kind and loving and compassionate,” despite the frigid demeanor often attributed to them.
“The picture that’s painted in the news of Russia is not necessarily the same as what you encounter when you meet actual Russians,” he said.
The country and its leaders have featured prominently in American news since the beginning of the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaigns, entangling public opinion of Russia in partisan politics.
When asked if Russians give as much attention to America as Americans do to Russia, Knight said, “America features prominently in Russian thought, politics and conversation.
“They understand that what America does has an effect on them, so they’re paying close attention to what America is doing and what’s going on in the political system, economically and [so on] because they want to know how it’s going to affect their lives.”
When politics comes up in conversation, Knight takes the opportunity to encourage people to place their trust in God, not public officials.
“Politicians are going to fail us,” he said. “What they’re placing their hope in needs to be a sure foundation.”
Knight urged U.S. churches to pray for Russian Christians in three ways:
- Pray for Russian Christians to be boldly committed to sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.
- Pray for Russian Christians to be trained to preach the Word, and to do it well, so they would grow in their faith.
- Pray for unity among Russian Christians, so they will be united in Christ with one another and with Christians around the world, giving up preferences in order to further the Kingdom.
Visit imb.org for more information about missions.