Russian Evangelicals Preach Sexual Purity amid Rising AIDS Epidemic

The leading evangelical mission organisation in Russia - Russian Ministries - has recently started a new initiative to spread "Biblical values" and an "anti-drug [and] sexual purity" message among Russian children and youth, according to its statement to the Budapest-based BosNewsLife Christian News Centre.

The project has been proposed in the wake of the rising AIDS/HIV epidemic in Russia over recent years. According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), "Russia has experienced one of the most explosive rates of HIV spread in the world. There are already nearly 300,000 people living with HIV registered by the health authorities."

It estimated last year that close to 1.8 million people are infected in Russia. "Experts believe the total number to be much greater, and it is growing all the time," the UNDP added. The worrying trend is even being observed in the former Soviet republics of Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova and Estonia.

Russian Ministries "Time to Live! Fund" plan to help at least 40,000 Russian children in the next 12 months, many of whom are infected with the HIV virus which causes AIDS.

The AIDS epidemic not only ruins the life of those who are infected, but it also threatens the quality of life of the next generation. This is what the Russian Ministries are most concerned about.

"Every day more HIV-infected children are in Russian orphanages. Even more children end up in orphanages just because their parents contract the disease or abuse drugs," Russian Ministries said.

Russian Ministries revealed that the HIV positive orphans are often marginalised. They are isolated from the other children or even kept in locked cells. It therefore stressed that it wants to support Russian Christians to reach out with "mercy ministries" to "hurting, dying children already infected with HIV" and youth who are at risk of contracting this deadly disease.

In order to eradicate the root of the AIDS epidemic, the evangelical Russian Ministries tries to make people understand that only the word of God can guide people towards the true way of life and thus protect them from the physical lures of this world. Instead of promoting the use of condoms as a strategy to tackle the spread of AIDS, the ministries will adopt a more fundamental evangelistic plan.

"Our goal is to help teach young people God’s plan for sexual purity, ways to resist the allure
of illegal drugs, and strategies for how to cope with the many difficulties they are facing in
the new Russia since the collapse of Communism," said Sergey Rakhuba, vice president of Russian Ministries.

"We are incorporating biblical values and the anti-drug message into our training programs," President Deyneka added. "We are also working with partner ministries- teaching a ‘No Apologies’ sexual abstinence curriculum as well as translating and distributing Focus on the Family youth-oriented materials."

In addition, the ministry also plans to reach youth by more attractive ways with music, presentations and counselling, such as a "Time to Live!" Festival.