Unfrozen: Gospel Reaches the 'End of the World'

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YAMAL PENINSULA, Russia - Imagine living in a place where temperatures often plummet to minus 60 degrees and winter seems to last all year.

In the northernmost parts of Siberia, Peter Khudi is braving the frigid temperatures to share the gospel with remote tribes.

The Yamal Peninsula sits in the deep frozen Siberian Tundra above the Arctic Circle. Yamal means the end of the world, and in many ways it is.

"There are no roads here," one resident said. "People use frozen lakes and rivers to get around on reindeer or snowmobile."

The temperature fluctuates between minus 30 and minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Khudi led CBN News through the frozen land on a visit to meet a nomadic family.

Reindeer skin is used to cover the primary mode of transportation -- a sleigh attached to a snowmobile.

The sun shines only a few hours during the winter. When it does appear, normally around noon, the sunrise is something to behold.

"This is a special place," Khudi said.

Khudi belongs to the largest nomadic tribe called the Nenets. For the last few years, he's shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with his tribe and others who live here in the tundra.

"When I became a Christian, God gave me a new heart. He also gave me a new heart for my people," Khudi said. "I go out on my snowmobile meeting these nomadic families and telling them about the love of Christ."

The Nenets are nomadic reindeer herders -- the word nenet means "child of a deer."

"Our food, clothes, shoes, homes, our transportation, everything comes from them," one resident explained. "Without deer we cannot not survive."

And learning how to survive in the tundra begins at an early age.

"All my children were taught from a young age how to live in the harsh conditions," said Nenets tribe member Ustinia Laptander. "It is our way of life, but if you are not careful you can die out here."

The women take care of cooking, sewing clothes, and putting up the teepees. The men are hunters and care for the reindeer.

When it comes to skinning the reindeer, the entire family is involved. The hide is used to make the teepees and clothes. Blood and raw reindeer meat are often consumed to get vitamins.

Khudi is among a handful of evangelists reaching the Nenets people. He's been visiting Ustinia's family for a few weeks.

"He comes here to tell us about God. We have good conversations," she said.

Khudi is supported by a local Siberian church and Russian Ministries, an organization focused on spreading the Gospel in the former Soviet Union.

He said his mission starts with friendship evangelism.

"I've brought presents for all the children today. Each box is filled with toys, school supplies, and a children's Bible. We have to build relationships first," he explained.

Modern technology such as the snowmobile, cell phone, and generator have made life a little easier on the tundra.

"Before I had to rely on reindeer to get around," Khudi said. "Now the snowmobile allows me to travel further distances to meet families."

There are no verifiable numbers, but Khudi estimates some 500 Nenets people have accepted the Lord in recent years.

"There are still thousands more who have yet to hear about Jesus," he said.

Khudi continues to traverse the harsh landscape of the Siberian Tundra in search of more people to share Jesus with.

*Originally aired on Feb. 18, 2011

Related Link:

Russian Ministries

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