............globe turning




Christian leader says that this one is a spiritual one and is marking the historic city's 300 anniversary

By Dan Wooding

 (ANS) -- A Christian leader says that a second Russian revolution has begun in St. Petersburg, the birthplace of communism, but this one is a spiritual one.

That's the view of Pastor Igor "Nikki" Nikitin, President of the Association of Christian Churches in Russia, who made this comment in an interview with ANS in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, after he had met with Dr. Lee Jae-Rock, senior pastor of the 80,000-member Manmin Joong-Ang church in Seoul, Korea, whom he has invited to hold an outreach in St. Petersburg in November.
(Pictured: Igor Nikitin being interviewed by Dan Wooding in Dubai; picture by Peter Wooding).

"St. Petersburg started as a door to the West and the city has become a symbol in Russia of a spiritual significance of our nation," he said in an interview. "So we really have been preparing in a spiritual way. The year began with several crusades when over 20,000 people got saved. Pastor Billy Joe Daugherty of Tulsa, OK, who has been coming to Russia for several years, particularly St. Petersburg, felt in his spirit that he should come to start holding revival crusades and, to be honest, we thought this was probably not the best time. We were concerned about the response of the people.

"But," he continued, "more than 150 churches got involved in this evangelistic crusade and saw that it as 'their' event. We all realized that those who responded shouldn't just get saved and then be left to their own resources, but we had to help them get established in a church and so now a real revival has started in our city.

"All of the churches that participated have been growing in St. Petersburg. Some of them have had up to 100 new members. We are excited with what is happening in our historic city. And now, the members of these churches are great evangelists. They are visiting orphanages, police stations, and going everywhere to preach the gospel. So this is quite a revival that is taking place.


Nikitin then revealed that among those at the forefront of the revival in St. Petersburg are drug addicts who have found Christ who are reaching out to others with drug problems and also HIV/AIDS.

"Russia is the now the fifth fastest nation with the growth of HIV/AIDS," he said. "One of the reasons is that in Russia we have 2 1/2 million drug addicts. In St. Petersburg, we have five Christian rehab centers and lots of people in those centers have HIV or AIDS. Now those with HIV/AIDS are reaching out into the hospital where there are many kids who are born with HIV and they have found their own ministry of love amongst them. The people who don't have HIV or AIDS have been afraid to visit this hospital, but these recovering addicts are going and ministering there.

"When I go to these Christian rehab centers, I can sense such excitement for the Lord and I have felt during that time they believe that anyone of them can be healed not only of drugs but also of HIV/AIDS. These former drug addicts are so dedicated to the Lord. They are working for eights hours and then each day for three hours each day they have Bible school and then three hours of praise and worship. So they are living witnesses of the power of the Lord and they are traveling all over Russia ministering and out of these drug addicts now we have 48 full-time ministers in two years.


Nikitin says that the St. Petersburg revival is also taking place in prisons in the city.

"We have wanted to go prisons to and preach the gospel there, but for several years the prison administration would not allow us to go in and visit the prisoners in their cells," he said. "One day I was meeting with a friend of mine from the Russian congress who had got saved and I asked him how I could help him and he told me that in St. Petersburg there was the largest prison in Europe and the people were dying from starvation there. I told them that we could help with food but we also needed to help them with spiritual food. I said we had 10,000 Bibles and I asked if I could bring them to each prisoner. My friend picked up the phone and told them that we could come and bring food and Bibles. The next day we came to this heavy secured prison and we were given access to all the main guys of the prison and we preached to them.

"The following month, we asked if we could put radios in every cell. We didn't have radios, but they said that would be wonderful. Now we have 18 hours of broadcasts in every cell in that huge prison which was built for 1,000 people and now there are over 12,000. It is in the center of St. Petersburg. There are four beds in each cell, but there are between 12 and 15 people in each one and so they are taking shifts to sleep. The government is supposed to spend 48 cents per day for a prisoner, but they are spending only between 8 to 10 cents a day. So many of the prisoners are dying from starvation. Some of prisoners stay in the same clothes for years.

"However, they love having the radios and hearing the Christian message and the letters we have been receiving as a result of our radio programs are just tremendous. When they find freedom inside, it is just fantastic.

"We started with several prisons in St. Petersburg. Each radio costs $5.00. In Russia there are one million people in prison and we believe that we can get radios into every cell for every prison.

"We want every prison in Russia to be an evangelistic camp instead of a concentration camp. We started with a small beginning and we now have over 15,000 prisoners listening to Christian radio 18 hours a day. We can broadcast through the satellite all over the country and so we can cover these millions of prisoners in these several thousand cells and just a small satellite dish."

Pastor Nikitin said that as the spiritual revival continues in St. Petersburg, he believes that the visit of Dr. Lee Jae-Rock and his Manmin worship team will see many more find Christ.

"For him to come to St. Petersburg at the end of the year will be take the revival on further," he said. "This is a great way I felt to encourage the Russian Church, and also to bring new people to the Church, so the spiritual significance of his meetings in St. Petersburg will be enormous. I visited his crusade in Chennai, India, and I was fascinated with the miracles and his dedication and we believe his visit will be of great spiritual significance with miracles and so we need to see as Russians more of the power of God. When the people see the great power of God, it is going to be harder for them to deny."

I am sure that Marx and Lenin would not be pleased to see what is happening to the people of St. Petersburg. For thousands of new Christians they are finding that religion is not the "opiate of the people" but is a way to find new life in Jesus Christ.

To contact Pastor Nikitin, his e-mail address is accrio@mail.admiral.ru.  The website for the Association of Christian Churches in Russia is: http://www.accr.ru 

Dan Wooding is an award winning British journalist now living in Southern California with his wife Norma. He is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times). Wooding is also a syndicated columnist, and was for ten years a commentator on the UPI Radio Network in Washington, DC. Wooding is the author of some 41 books, one of which is "Blind Faith" which he co-authored with his 93-year-old mother Anne Wooding, who was a pioneer missionary to the blind of Nigeria in the 1930s. Copies of this book are available from the ASSIST USA office at PO Box 2126,
Garden Grove, CA 92842-2126. His writings are on the ASSIST Website at: www.assistnews.net
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