Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)
Known officially as the Russian Federation, the country referred to today as Russia dates back to the 12th century, when it first emerged from Mongolian control. As it grew and conquered surrounding areas, the eventual Russian Empire dominated until it was overthrown in 1917. Communist rule, which began with Vladimir Lenin, led to the formation of the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.) Following brutal rule by Lenin’s successor, Iosif Stalin, Soviet dominance, which included violent religious persecution, spread with the loss of tens of millions of lives. After Stalin and the degradation of the Soviet economy and society, General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev attempted to restore and modernize communism with ideas including openness or glasnost and restructuring or perestroika. According to the CIA Factbook, “his initiatives inadvertently released forces that by December 1991 splintered the USSR into Russia and 14 other independent republics.”
CIA Factbook continues that “Since then, Russia has shifted its post-Soviet democratic ambitions in favor of a centralized semi-authoritarian state in which the leadership seeks to legitimize its rule through managed national elections, populist appeals by President [Vladimir] Putin, and continued economic growth. “
Now the 10th largest country in the world in population, the majority of the approximately 142 million Russian citizens still identify themselves as either non-believers or non-practicing believers, a holdover from decades of Soviet religious persecution. Of those in the population who do practice, 15-20% are Russian Orthodox, 10-15% are Muslim and 2% are other Christians.
MIWC works with several partner mission agencies in Russia and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries to provide training and strategic planning assistance for new church plants and outreach. We believe that partnerships are an effective way of maximizing resources (financial and personnel) to reach the maximum audience. Our partner ministries have included Slavic Gospel Association, Greater Europe Mission, Future Leadership Foundation, and the national church unions of the countries listed below.
We also work closely with leaders, professors, and students from numerous seminaries and Christian universities and colleges from Russia, Belarus, Moldova, plus the Russian-speaking countries of Central Asia (such as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and others).
MIWC Associates from Ukraine led a choir tour across Russia in 2013. Plans for a 2014 summer music camp for Russian youth were put on hold after camp facility renovations were halted due to the political landscape in early 2014.
Source: CIA Factbook - https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/rs.html