CBN’s Senior Foreign Correspondent Embarks on Siberian Christmas Adventure
George Thomas has travelled all around the world, but this week during his first ever trip to Russia, he’s embarking on an eight day trek to Siberia to report on what God is doing there through the work of Russian Ministries.
|CBN’s George Thomas reporting from Moscow|
As Russians celebrate Christmas tomorrow (Friday, January 7, 2011), George will be travelling through the Siberian tundra in sub-zero conditions to one of the most remote parts of the country to see how Russian Ministries is reaching out to some of the neediest people in the former Soviet Union.
Speaking from Moscow before he set off on his eight-day trek to Siberia, George said that he knew the conditions would be tough, but he was excited at the prospect of seeing at first-hand what God is doing there.
“Tomorrow,” he said, “we make our trek to the tundra. We’ll spend about eight days in two different areas. One is Salekhard, which is the only city today that’s on the Arctic Circle. We’ll spend about four days there and then go down closer to the Mongolian border, still within the Siberian region, called Krasnoyarsk and get a chance to see how Russian Ministries has set up churches and how they’ve worked with the local community leaders in reaching kids and needy families.
“Being in these kinds of conditions can make it challenging for filming because your equipment freezes, so you’re constantly ducking in and out of warm places, trying to navigate slippery roads, wet weather and snow that keeps on coming, but in that is the excitement of covering the story.”
Thomas added: “My goal is I want to see, experience and document how God is moving in Russia. I want to see what Russian Ministries is doing in some of the most remote parts of this country. It’s not just about bringing the gospel to the big metropolitan cities but it’s also going to these places that are very difficult to reach, where it’s a very harsh lifestyle. To go to the remote parts of the Siberian tundra and to experience what these people experience in the dead of winter and meet those who are committed to staying there amongst the people. Meeting believers who have a passion to make known our Savior’s name and to give people hope is exciting.”
During his time in Moscow, George had a chance to see how Russian Ministries is coordinating its Christmas outreach initiative called Project Hope.
“This week we saw Russian Ministries work in collaboration with 200 churches, several of them here in Moscow with Project Hope, in essence providing Christmas presents to kids,” said Thomas. “These boxes produced by Russian Ministries allow churches to put in all kinds of goodies for kids from school supplies, to gloves and toys and with it comes a children’s edition of the Bible.
“I think it’s tremendous what Russian Ministries is doing. It’s about reaching the down and out — those who are in some ways hidden in the crevices of life here in Russia who don’t get a chance. These orphans and street kids may be the outcasts of society and are unwanted and uncared for, but Russia Ministries is providing them with not just a physical gift but they’re demonstrating the true meaning of Christmas for so many of these kids that previously had never heard the name of Jesus.”
George says that it has been absorbing to be in Russia during the Christmas season, considering the history of the country that only allowed these kinds of celebrations to take place some 18 years ago.
“It’s fascinating the idea of the person of Jesus Christ being celebrated in this former communist nation,” he went on to say. “I saw an incredible picture the other day of a massive gigantic Christmas tree in front of the headquarters of the KGB and it’s not just there, but all throughout the city.
“There are these ornate, very well-decorated Christmas trees, and obviously people if they have any understanding of Christianity and Christmas they know it’s about the birth of Christ, and so to look at these and see these images and all these people gearing up for Christmas celebrated here in the Russian Orthodox tradition on January 7, following the Julian calendar, and to just imagine prior to 1992 Christmas and such holidays were completely banned for 75 years.
“It was only in 1992 that Christmas was celebrated as a holiday, and to look at that in the context of the history of this country is quite amazing.”
For more details on the work of Russian Ministries go to: www.russian-ministries.org
To see George Thomas’ reports on his trip go to: www.cbn.com
Peter Wooding is an award-winning TV, radio and print journalist and media consultant under the name of Peter Wooding Productions (www.peterwoodingproductions.com). Having previously spent 10 years as news editor with UCB Radio in the UK, he has travelled extensively reporting from countries including Russia, Serbia, Ukraine, Dubai, South Korea, Zambia, Gambia, Mozambique, Croatia, Israel and India. He now reports regularly for CBN News, ASSIST News Service, GDOP London, Russian Ministries, Whispering Word and Sorted Magazine. Peter and wife Sharon live in North Wales, UK with their three children. Passionate to see God’s Justice and Mercy impact lives, Peter is director of a new UK ministry Mercy Projects International (www.mercyproject.org.uk) to help at-risk young people in Ukraine, Russia, Armenia, Kosovo, the Middle East and beyond. Contact Peter for consultation at: firstname.lastname@example.org or tel. +44 1244 549167/+44 7500 903067