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It was 1991, two years after the Berlin Wall fell and the year the communist Soviet Union dissolved. Communism was born in Russia with the promise of an equal society. Instead, it birthed religious oppression and violent war.

The oppression of communism had cast a cloud of darkness over the country. It was seen in the drab colors of the buildings and clothes and felt in the spiritual emptiness of its people. This was spiritual darkness.

For 50 years, Anastasia* had embraced communistic beliefs, including an atheistic worldview. She taught English at a prestigious language institute in Moscow, which was considered the center of communist ideology. She had never known God or heard the truth of the gospel explained.

But Anastasia’s life was about to be divinely interrupted.

Before the fateful fall of the Berlin Wall, two men began taking the gospel behind the Iron Curtain. John Maisel and Bud Toole followed the Lord’s leading to reach the lost and train church leaders in spiritually dark nations—beginning with Russia.

John held lectures in some of the Soviet Union’s most prominent universities with the goal of delivering a clear gospel message. John, Bud, and other believers who traveled with them encountered individuals—engulfed in atheism—who were starving for God’s Word.

Anastasia was one of those individuals whose heart was shrouded in darkness. She attended one of John’s lectures where he presented the truth of the gospel and invited the audience to respond by standing up if they believed in it. Surprising even herself, Anastasia stood up. She knew God was beginning to replace the darkness inside of her with His marvelous light.

Anastasia was later baptized and was asked whether she believed in God. Loudly and unashamedly, she said, “Yes!” The light of the gospel had overcome years of living in spiritual darkness.

This was just the beginning of a gospel movement that has spread from Russia to more than 40 countries worldwide. East-West was founded in 1993 with the vision of glorifying God by multiplying followers of Jesus in the spiritually darkest areas of the world.

After three decades of multiplying millions of disciples, God is still using East-West to shine God’s light into the shadows of lostness.

Learn more about East-West's history.

*Name has been changed for security purposes.