As a young student in school I learned about “the rivers in Siberia”: Ob, Yenisey and Lena – three of the largest rivers on the planet. All three of them cut across the Siberian taiga and tundra and flood out into the gulfs of the Arctic Ocean. Most of the year they are frozen and serve as ice-roads for motorized vehicles and snow mobiles. In springtime they come alive again and boats and ships of all sorts and sizes go up and down the river.
Who are living by the shores of those mighty rivers? The “left-behinds”. When globalization and urbanization had caught their “movers and shakers”, and sent them to the cities, often those with less resources and initiative were left behind. The factory moved to the city as well. Thousands of villages without any future, without hope. No maintenance. Left by themselves to die… This summer YWAM was able to buy a boat in Novosibirsk. The boat has beds for a crew of eight people. A small team of four from Kamchatka took it 2600 kilometers down the river to Salekhard, the administrative center of the Yamal Nenet Okrug. Over two weeks on the river, three Andreis and one Ivan continued on to reach the first indigenous Christian conference for Finno-Ugric and Samojedic peoples in Yamal. Yamal means “the ends of the earth.” That´s where Jesus asked us to go, and YWAM is there. What did they see by those river shores? Villages, villages, villages. One village man boasted to Andrei, a Ukrainian YWAMer from Petropavlovsk, that he had visited two other villages in his lifetime. Siberia is as big as Europe, the continental USA and Alaska put together; an enormous landmass full of natural resources for the Russian government to fuel their economic development. But you will find people there, too. Let us not forget “the forgotten” in Siberia.
Nadjesta or Dar? Since July, YWAM also has a boat on the river of Ob in Siberia, ready to take teams into the heart of the Russian mainland. It will be based in Salekhard. The Good News Church, our partner in Yamal, looks after it and is already using it to reach out to the indigenous peoples in their area. Since we prayed for and consecrated the boat, two names have been suggested to identify it: “Nadjesta” which means “hope” — a common Russian female name — and “Dar” which means “gift” in Russian. Our prayer is that this first YWAM ship in Siberia will be the beginning of a new fleet. YWAM Russia and YWAM Northern Europe are partnering to see a ship ministry developed in both regions. We have started at the end of a need. YWAMers in Northern Europe are praying to see the release of a bigger ship, and a crew, for service between our Nordic and Baltic capitals. From a bigger sized ship we would be able to serve and equip smaller riverboats in Eastern Europe. These smaller riverboats will be able to reach “the Old World” effectively. The Old World was developed and populated by people coming on the rivers to pioneer the land.
The Viking ship Project. I also learned in school about my forefathers, the Vikings. They used ships “to reach out to the world” as well; on the oceans to the west and on the rivers to the east. Next summer thousands of YWAMers are expected to attend outreaches during the Olympic Games in London, England. What could be a greater adventure than taking a group of young people in a Viking ship from Scandinavia to England? That is exactly what YWAM will do! This time the ship will only be carrying spiritual weapons and the Message of Peace. No robberies or plundering!
A crew is coming together as well as a thousand young Mission Adventurers from YWAM Norway. BBC is interested in making a program about “the Vikings coming back…” and our own YWAM ship, the Next Wave from Marine Reach, will serve as the supply boat as we cross the North Sea. Pray with us as we press on to obey the word of the Lord!