|% Urban:||74.9 %|
|Population Under 15 Yrs:||18.2 %|
|Official Language:||Russian; local languages in autonomous republics|
|Literacy Rate:||100 %|
|Life Expectancy:||69.4 yrs (167/236)|
|HDI Ranking:||52 / 189|
|% Christian:||66.9 %|
|% Evangelical:||1.2 %|
|% Largest Religion:||66.9 %|
|Least Reached People Groups:||119|
|% Unevangelized:||7 %|
Russia’s increasing predations in other former Soviet states fully manifested in the 2022 invasion of Ukraine. The invasion was preceded by years of meddling in Ukrainian politics and seizing Ukrainian territory. The invasion was followed not only by great destruction, but by reports of horrific abuses and war crimes committed by the Russian military. Russia is a proud nation with a rich but often tragic history. For centuries, it was systematically plundered by those who held sway, from the Mongols to the Tsars to the Communists to the oligarchs. The state’s propaganda machine plays into this history by projecting both victimization and triumphalism. It deceives its own population, intimidates them into silence, or simply gets rid of them. The staggering costs of a war that did not go according to plan, combined with crippling economic and diplomatic consequences, leaves Russia a shadow of its former self. Recovery may take generations – if it comes at all. For the sake of Russia, its neighbours, and the world, pray for peace, transparency, and truth to prevail in a nation where all three have been in short supply.
The Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) survived Communism, and remained a major symbol of Russian identity. It sees itself as the preserver of a great Christian civilization handed down from Rome and Byzantium. It endured terrible persecution (along with other Christian groups) between 1920 and 1990 when up to 200,000 Christian leaders died as martyrs. Tragically, it was also an instrument of war when its Patriarch – a former KGB agent and a long-time Putin ally – attempted to politically and theologically justify the invasion of Ukraine. Pray that repentance will come to the ROC, and that God would cleanse it of any corruption and heresy that has taken root. Pray that the ROC will make peace with other Christian groups, and will stop any activity to suppress or harm them. Pray for what renewal movements exist within Russian Orthodoxy. Russian Orthodoxy is culturally strong, but spiritually weak in the lives of most of its followers.
Millions struggle against poverty and hopelessness. Russia has one of the world’s most elderly populations, along with low immigration numbers. Russia’s population drops by over 500,000 each year, and its birth rate is among the world’s lowest. At the same time, Russia’s abortion rate is one of the world’s highest. Alcoholism, drug addiction, suicide, and family breakdown ruin many lives. Russia has some of Europe’s highest infection rates for a number of diseases, but health care costs are too high for many to afford, and few have access to it. In peacetime, many youths pursued hedonistic dissipation. In war, the military losses in Ukraine, along with conscription and the many thousands who fled the country to avoid it, are robbing the country of much of its next generation.
The North Caucasus region is the poorest and least stable region in Russia. It has the highest unemployment, the highest birth rates, and widespread corruption. The region’s 7 republics contain 50 to 60 ethnic groups of Caucasus, Turkic, and Iranian origin. The North Caucasus peoples are among the least reached on earth, and they live in Europe’s least-evangelized region. Pray that somehow, Jesus might be revealed to the peoples of this intensely needy corner of the world.
Tatarstan has many minerals and good farmland, and a large degree of political and religious independence. The Tatar are Russia’s largest Muslim people (5.5 million), and Europe’s 2nd-largest. (More Tatars live outside Tatarstan than inside.) Only about 10% faithfully practise Islam, though it is a strong part of Tatar identity. Evangelical churches and groups increased among the Tatar, and may now total over 100 congregations! Most are Russian-speaking, but Tatar-speaking believers also grow in number. Persecution from the government, Muslims, and the Orthodox Church all draw evangelicals closer together in fellowship, even those who were historically divided by language and theology. Pray that these brothers and sisters might present a beautiful and profound testimony of unity in Christ to wider society.
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Content taken or adapted from Operation World, 7th Edition (2010) and Pray for the World (2015). Both books are published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.