Stuttgart, Ark. -
Visit Russia with a mission in mind — that is what Dr. Sam Roberts, pastor of First Baptist Church in Stuttgart, and four other people did from June 1 through June 12 this year.
“We visited Irbit, Russia, which is in the Eural Mountains and is often called ‘The Gateway to Siberia’,” Roberts said. “It is on the edge of northern and western Russian.”
In Irbit, which has a population of 45,000, Roberts and his volunteers were talking to people within the city, received names and began helping 25 families, Roberts explained.
“We helped with food, school supplies, medical supplies, just anything to help them survive,” Roberts said. “These people we helped were very poor.”
Roberts, who has been to Russia four times, said he and the four others went to Russia because of their skills, volunteerism and a purpose in their mission.
“Other than myself, Donald Lee Ruffin had previously been to Russia, the other three had never been there,” Roberts said. “We had three specific purposes in mind when we began going to Russia.”
The three partnerships were to develop relationships with the believers, develop the relationships with the people in the city and complete the construction of the “House of Prayer,” Roberts said.
“In Russia a church is the people and the building is ‘The House of Prayer’,” Roberts said.
Roberts said majority of the population in Russia belongs to the religion of Russian Orthodox religion, which still believes in Jesus Christ, but the church is tied in with the government of Russia.
“The poverty level in Russia is extremely high,” Roberts said. “Majority of the people earn $200 or less per month.”
There are some affluent people in Russia, it is seen very plainly because the affluent people work in the oil industry and government, Roberts said.
“Small business owners are developing a middle class,” Roberts said. “It is very difficult to do it in Russia.”
Roberts said that there are educational opportunities and in the public school system in Russia, all of the students receive instruction of English.
English is a portion of their curriculum,” Roberts said. “More of the students can read English than speak it.”
Accompanying Robert’s on the trip to Irbit, Russia for the first time were Keith Seeman, Turner Roberts of Stuttgart and Jason Houston, an Atlanta resident who spends duck season in the Stuttgart area.
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