“If nothing else works, I’ll just be a missionary,” Frankie thought during his senior year of high school. After living in America for a few years, he realized he could either go to school and get a job in the “secular” world, or he could follow in the footsteps of his parents and live as an overseas missionary. But through prayer and discernment, Frankie came to realize that being an missionary wasn’t simply a last resort – it was in his heart!
Frankie Emrick spent most of his childhood in Russia as a missionary kid. He grew up in the Sakha Republic (Yakutia) in the village of Moksogollokh. His family moved to Russia when he was six. Being just a kid at the time, he knew his parents were missionaries, but wasn’t personally involved in their ministry.
Besides his family being the only Americans in their village, Frankie had a pretty typical childhood. He spent most of his time playing with his friends, going to school and being involved in various activities like sports. He quickly began to learn the Russian language as he interacted with other kids his age.
When Frankie was fifteen a number of circumstances led his family to move back to the United States. “It was my Dad’s idea to move to Russia, so he struggled leaving, feeling like he wasn’t done.” Frankie remembers. The Emricks returned to the U.S., burdened that there were still so many Indigenous peoples that needed to hear the gospel and be discipled.
When Frankie entered college, he decided to pursue a missions degree at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia, Canada. While he was there he began to think that his next steps would lead him to Eastern Europe. However, as Frankie looks back now on his time in school, he realizes that Eastern Europe was not where God was leading him all along. “In all my papers and projects, almost not by my own choice, God was driving me to pick Indigenous people groups and Muslims and not anything to do with Europe,” he said. While he was in college he even led a mission trip to St. Petersburg, Russia.
By the time he completed his studies, Frankie knew indigenous peoples were both a love and a burden on his heart. A short while later he was once again connected with InterAct Ministries, being one of the only mission organizations he knew of with an emphasis on reaching these people groups. After several years of prayer and seeking the Lord’s direction, Frankie’s path directed him back to Russia, the country that makes up so much of his childhood story.
Though he’s returned to Russia, he’s a long way from the village of Moksogollokh where he grew up. Frankie is now living in the city of Krasnoyarsk, a city of about one million people in central Siberia. “The first two or three days when I was back, there was a split in my soul - half of it felt like I had never left and half felt like I couldn’t believe it and it wasn’t real.”
His family is fully supportive of where the Lord has led him. He is taking this year to pray through how the Lord would have him serve in Russia. He attends a small church of about fifty people, and while there are laws in Russia restricting proselytizing, he feels safe and able to do ministry work in that community. He is thrilled to be back, especially when he thinks back on the circumstances under which is family had moved back to the United States. His dad felt the work wasn’t done when they left, but God has now sent Frankie back to help continue the unfinished work.
Frankie is currently enrolled at a local university where he is studying Russian. While he already speaks Russian well, having retained much of the language from his years growing up there, he is hoping to master it further. He is engaged in his studies, serving in the church and getting plugged into the community in the city.
“Big picture, I would love to see a church-planting movement (led by indigenous people) among the people groups across central Asia, starting in this area and going towards Turkey and onward.” He seeks to get behind the leaders that the Lord is using and where the Spirit is present.