A three hour drive on the Russian highway from Naberezhnye Chelney to the city of Izhevsk gave us yet another look of the old and new Russia. Mike and Carrie had scheduled a Gospel Truth Seminar in this city, where they hope to establish an extension school of Charis Bible College. When we first arrived, Andrew was to sow the seeds of the almost-too-good-to-be-true-news with a group of local Charismatic pastors.
The distance between the two cities was merely seventy miles, but the travel took three full hours because of the narrow two lanes, rough tarmac, and hazardous mix of trucks, cars, and farm equipment. We hired a Russian driver to haul us and our luggage in a Russian Lada van. Russian drivers are quite skillful. We speculated that ours might qualify for the Daytona 500 (or was it the Hazard County demolition derby? He certainly sharpened our prayer life.) As David Hardesty put it, “There were a number of ‘sweet Jesus’ moments on that ride.
Our arrival at the Charismatic Church shocked us even more. Travelling through the city of 1.5 million people, we passed ornate Russian Orthodox churches. But the Charismatic Church was located on the undeveloped side of town—the part with no pavement. That is because in the new Russia, the old Orthodox Church is using its political clout with Putin’s government to pass laws against the rising tide of non-Orthodox Christians. They refer to them as “cults,” and laws are passed to forbid them assembling in public buildings, or even in some of the better private places. We were appalled at the location of this vibrant community of believers in Izhevsk.
Filed May 29, 2012, by AWM Media Operations Manager, Stephen Bransford.