Gospel ministry growing in world's coldest major city

A ministry in what is considered as the coldest major city in the world is progressing.

According to Mission Network News, the Slavic Gospel Association is now preparing to launch a 6-year Bible training program for church leaders in Yakutsk, the capital city of the Sakha Republic in Russia. The course will cover preaching, systematic theology, Biblical couseling, to name a few, and will be composed of at least 16 courses.

A car drives by outside the village of Tomtor in Oymyakon valley some 700 km from Yakutsk, January 26, 2013. | REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

"The purpose of going up there into that region was to begin training that will occur twice a year, to equip the churches there to do the work of ministry," said SGA's Eric Mock, who was recently in the area. "It's really important that we understand that God's purpose is in setting apart the Church, the local body of believers, to be His witnesses, to not only proclaim the Word of God, but to make disciples, that we may Glorify God."

The first church in Yakutsk, a city located 280 miles south of the Arctic Circle with roughly 270,000 to 300,000 people, is reported to have been established in 1994. But while the number of churchgoers is growing, the church leaders have had no Bible training. Thus, the SGA launched the Antioch Initiative, a Biblical training program.

"They appealed to us to begin Bible training up there," Mock explained. "And a few weeks ago, by God's grace, we were able to begin this training. The really exciting part is that it was actually being taught in two languages. It was taught in the Russian language and then in the native language."

As of last month, there were 15 students in hermeneutics, a class that teaches Bible interpretation. Training is also being conducted on homiletics or the art of writing sermons and preaching.

There other villages around the city that missionaries intend to reach. Pokrovsk, one village a few miles from Yakutsk, already has a church planted since the fall of the Soviet Union. They are also getting training through the Antioch Initiative.

The average winter temperature in Yakutsk is -30 degrees Fahrenheit (-34 degrees Celsius), and according to MNN, during harsh seasons, one has to go through frozen rivers and snow-covered roads in below-freezing temperatures to reach it. Spring and summer offer muddy roads to travelers.