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Russian corps continue to serve amidst huge challenges

The Salvation Army in Russia is continuing to serve God, its members, people in need and local communities in challenging circumstances.

Despite the challenges faced by The Salvation Army in Russia since February 2022, ministry and corps life continue, as do social programs and community outreach.

“We have Sunday worship, Bible studies, Sunday schools, youth and children’s programs and women’s ministries,” explains Major Svetlana Sharova, Russia Territory Chief Secretary. “In some areas, we also have feeding programs for the homeless and needy, shoes and clothes for children, sport, haircuts and ministry to the elderly.” 


Through the help of local donors and volunteers, as well as creativity in raising funds to become self-supporting, The Salvation Army continues to serve people in need. Officers and corps leaders meet online for prayer each week and can participate online in Salvation Army European networks. Corps have been financially sustained throughout 2023.  


The difficulties, though, are real. Two corps have closed. Not all officers have received their allowances and many work outside the Army and serve the corps after hours. Staff numbers have reduced from 38 to five. 


Projects are on hold because funds cannot be accessed and there has been a dramatic reduction in income. The financial situation for 2024 is extremely uncertain, including support for retired officers. Properties incur significant maintenance costs and are being rented out. The sale of some properties is also being planned. 


“We are praying – and ask for prayers – that God will open new ways for the ministry of The Salvation Army in Russia,” shares Svetlana. “Our people remain positive and faithful, and we rely on God for the future.” 


Salvos snapshot 

Below we take a brief look at some of the corps around Russia – their ministries, blessings and challenges, and prayer requests:


“We are grateful to the Lord, that, despite the limited finances, not a single ministry or program has been closed. We are grateful for the faithfulness of local officers,” say Corps Officers Captain Oleg and Major Olesea Nikolaev. 

The funds from the Self-Denial Appeal 2022 and local donations have enabled the Moscow Social Centre to stay open. The homeless can wash clothes, find new ones, eat hot meals, have a haircut and hear the Good News. 

“Our social centre embodies the principals of ‘Soap. Soup. Salvation,” says Olesea. 

The corps holds a ‘Salvation’ meeting every Wednesday, followed by a meal. Many older people, and those in difficult situations, attend the meeting to sing, glorify God and pray together. 


Men’s fellowship takes place twice monthly and is a time for the men to pray together for personal and corps needs. The women also meet monthly for craft and cooking together. Children regularly participate in festive Sunday services and the newly formed Scouts patrol group. The corps also runs an active prison ministry – writing letters and sending parcels to prisoners they would normally visit. Most churches can no longer visit prisons. 


“Our difficulties include having no youth, and no additional tenants to help finance the corps and its ministries,” shares Oleg. “We ask for prayers for new people and soldiers, for growth in holiness, for guidance from the Holy Spirit for the development of the corps and all its ministries, and for financial provision for the corps.” 



The Elista Corps is located 1368km south-east of Moscow. The corps continues to worship and fellowship together. Corps members are active in social and sports ministry, and, through faithful offerings and tithes and donor assistance, help disadvantaged children with clothes and shoes. 

“We are grateful to the support and prayers of church friends, the development of ministries, and that our people are growing in Christ, in his Word and in unity,” shares Marina Smirnova, Corps Leader. 


“Salvationists, though, face personal challenges, and some have moved to other cities. There is general unrest within the local community due to external factors. And we need to identify and train new leaders in the corps. 


“We pray for strength in Christ, to trust God, for new people being saved and for self-support and donors to help develop and maintain corps ministries.” 



This city in Russia’s far north, above the Arctic Circle, is 1936km north of Moscow, but only 108km from the border with Norway and 182km from the border with Finland. 

“Despite the difficulties, our small community has become more united,” say Corps Officers Captains Alexander and Svetlana Bogdanov. “The Spatex thrift store is a huge support for the corps, although its sales have greatly decreased.” 

The main ministries and programs of the corps continue. These include clothing distribution to the needy, a small youth ministry where young people study the Bible, go camping, pray and testify to others about God, and just have fun together. The ‘Homecoming’ program, open to anyone, includes a Bible message, meal and the use of shower facilities. 


“Our prayer needs are for the leaders and soldiers of the corps, the development of youth and children’s ministries, for new soldiers and adherents, for wisdom in the development of the corps, for new sources of income and self-support, for the opportunity to reach as many people in need as possible, and for the development of Spatex and men’s and women’s ministries,” Captains Bogdanov shared. 



In Russia’s ‘second city’, Corps Officers Lieutenants Alexander and Yulia Krasov and their team, continue to face challenges. These include the withdrawal of financial support and the departure of many young people from the country. 


Despite these struggles, “We continue to serve with the forces and means that are available to us,” shares Yulia. “We continue our spiritual work and social services. Our church continues to be an open and friendly community for all without discrimination. We are a spiritual family, and we grow spiritually together, pray together, worship together, study the Bible, fellowship, and support each other in difficult times.” 

Corps programs include clothing distribution, children’s ministries, and a children’s shoes project – made possible by a private sponsor who donated funds for The Salvation Army to purchase shoes for children in need. 


Volunteers continue to buy, prepare, and distribute food, and to interact with those who are part of the feeding program. One volunteer, Svetlana, has now become a soldier of The Salvation Army! 


The corps also runs a self-supported art therapy project, through which people are also introduced to the mission and ministry of The Salvation Army. “This program is now more relevant than ever,” says Yulia. 


Scouting is the children’s favourite program. This year, new volunteers came to teach skills to the children. 


“Please pray for local leaders and volunteers as we have no employees, for new people, for God’s vision to further develop the corps and for new sources of income and self-support,” shares Yulia. “We pray for strength, inspiration and enthusiasm for those who remain faithful in our corps.” 



 In this northern corps, 1026km north-west of Moscow, praise and worship services, Bible studies, working with youth and community outreach, continue. 

“There is a great team of local leaders in the corps,” say Lieutenants Konstantin and Oksana Rubannikov, corps officers. “People are coming to know Christ as their Lord and Saviour, we are building good relationships with other churches in the city, people are faithful with tithes and offerings, and our ministry is growing and developing. 


“We do have challenges, including a lack of youth leaders, financial uncertainty and finding new ways of ministry. 


“We pray, and ask for prayers, that people continue to grow in their relationship with God; for our corps leaders; guidance in planning our ministry; self-support for the corps, especially in the long winter when utility bills are high; and that vulnerable children in the city can come to our corps. Thank you!”  



Rostov on Don is 1077km south of Moscow and just under 100km from the border with Ukraine. 


“We continue the work of Christ in Russia, even in these difficult times,” say Lieutenants Eugenii and Oxana Bespalov, corps officers. 

“We are more united that ever and the sudden change in the work of the church has taught us to trust God more and know that his miracles are with us every day.” 


Ministries at Rostov-on-Don include children’s and women’s ministries, home groups, work with refugees and a worship group consisting of African students. 


“Please pray for new people, for our ministries, our work with refugees and for us as a church to search for and see God in the new reality but to choose not to be disappointed or to close.” 


In Volgograd, 969km south-east of Moscow, The Salvation Army partners with a Christian fund to run a program for the elderly. The corps leader is Nana Shuvarinova. 



 Voronezh is 514km south of Moscow. The corps leader is Kira Sutolkina.  “We are grateful to the Lord that in 2023, the corps continued to serve, despite the 

difficulties encountered,” says Kira. 

“Our women come together for creative work, master classes and prayer. We also hold meetings and meals for older people. Everyone can participate in our Sunday services. Children also participate in our festive services, Sunday school and in social programs.” 


Funds from the Self-Denial Appeal 2022, and local donors, have enabled the feeding program to continue. Clothes are also distributed to those in need. 


“Please pray for new people, and for youth; for finances for our ministries and programs; for opportunities for evangelism; for spiritual guidance in developing our corps and ministries; for our prayer ministry; and for local officers.”





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