January 2012 – Twenty years ago, Rev. Robert Rahn was excitedly brainstorming ways to take advantage of an incredible opportunity that had arisen. Communism had fallen in Soviet Russia, and for the first time in generations, doors were opening to sharing the Gospel with people behind the Soviet bloc.
Thus the Lutheran Heritage Foundation was born, its first publication God’s No and God’s Yes for the people of Russia. Two decades and 70+ book titles later, the Lutheran Church has come back to life in Russia with two large Lutheran church bodies and two smaller ones.
The country has seen a lot of other changes during that time, as well.
“Russian culture has certainly changed in the 20 years, but the good news is that people still read,” says Rev. Leif Camp, an American pastor called by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria (ELCI) in Russia.
“The bad news is that people have gotten caught up in the rat race, and money is more important than spiritual things,” he explains. “Also, the youth culture is seeking to ‘catch up’ with the West as far as degradation of sexual morals and behavior. The work [of the church] has shifted from establishing and re-establishing parishes to battling political and immoral forces.”
When Rev. Camp first began his work of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ among the Russian people, he had precious few teaching materials at his disposal. Fortunately – both for Rev. Camp and for LHF – his path crossed with an LHF staff member who could help him.
“During the past five years or so, the distribution of LHF’s books in Russia had slowed,” explains Rev. James Fandrey, former LHF executive director. “The costs for storing the books were continuing to mount, and we weren’t sure what we were going to do.”
Rev. Camp was the answer to LHF’s prayer. When he heard of LHF’s predicament, he offered to store the books at his church – for free. Two other free storage locations were also found in Novosibirsk and Ekaterinburg.
Now, the books have a home, and the materials he needs to share the Gospel are at his fingertips.
Even better, Rev. Camp has identified several new ways of distributing the books to other ELCI churches that have never before received LHF’s books. LHF’s first Russian book, God’s No and God’s Yes, is desperately needed, along with Luther’s Small Catechism.
As he delivers the books, “the interest and sometimes outright joy in which this literature is received underlines for me the still-prevalent need for solid Lutheran literature in the Russian language,” says Rev. Camp.
Only with your help can this important work continue. Prayerfully consider how you can help support LHF projects.