The year was 1990, one year before the fall of communism in Russia. In a remote part of Siberia infamously known as “the coldest inhabited place on earth,” a thaw was happening – but it had nothing to do with temperature.
As the days of the Soviet Union came to a close God began to open doors in Russia. People who had been imprisoned for their faith were beginning to be released. Churches were beginning to be “tolerated” more and more as restrictions eased. It was during this time that the Association of Christian Evangelical Churches (ACEC) was founded in the Siberian region of Yakutia (The Republic of Sakha).
The first wave of Russian-speaking missionaries came to this remote region from other Soviet countries. We were blessed to be part of the ministry from 1993 to 2010. Since our first days in Yakutia, so much has changed and it has been very exciting to witness God at work!
When ACEC was founded there were less than ten Sakha believers, but today there are almost six hundred! There are also an even a greater number of Russians who have come to Christ. There are now Native-led churches and home fellowships in different areas around the region.
In 2010 the Lord led us to return to our home in Fairbanks, Alaska, but we’ve been able to keep up with the ongoing work in Yakutia. Last year we were invited to participate in ACEC’s 25th anniversary celebration in Yakutia, which took place this January.
When we arrived the temperature was -42˚ but the welcome we received was warm! Around 400 people registered for the big celebration including many from outlying villages, so we were able to spend time with almost everyone we had hoped to see. It was a wonderful time reconnecting with old friends and hearing about what God has done.
One of the major highlights of our time there was seeing Stas Efimov, a local Sakha man, appointed director of the association. We first met Stas when he was just a young teenager in 1993. At that time he was already actively serving the Lord, preaching, playing guitar and singing on some of our first evangelistic trips around the Republic. I was privileged, along with three other pastors, to share briefly about Stas and set him apart to be the new director by praying and laying hands on him.