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Rev. Vladimir A. Okhotin, the Founder and President of Russian Evangelistic Ministries, was born in 1942 in a small town of Volzhsk, approximately 400 miles east of Moscow.  Even though his family did not know the living God, Vladimir’s mother was instructed in the basic tenets of the Russian Orthodox faith.  In 1957, the family met Baptist believers and Vladimir, along with his father and mother, accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior.    

By the age of 17, Vladimir began to preach the Gospel at the local Baptist church and was asked to lead the church choir.  His music studies at a local college ended abruptly when authorities learned of his involvement in the unregistered Baptist church.

In 1966, Vladimir was arrested in Moscow for participating in a delegation of more than 400 persecuted Baptist Christians who came to petition the Soviet government for the release of Christian prisoners.  Following the mass arrest and confinement of the entire delegation, two senior ministers were sentenced to long prison terms while the rest of the delegation, including Vladimir, was released.

After being freed, Vladimir continued to serve the Lord in the persecuted church.  In 1976, he co-founded the Department of Music within the persecuted church to provide music training to church choir directors.  In subsequent years, he organized and led dozens of underground seminars and month-long training courses for choir directors from all over the country.  These courses were instrumental in improving the quality of music ministry in the underground churches.  The book Vladimir co-authored with his wife for choir directors was published by the underground Christian press, and it continues to serve as the core instruction manual for church choir directors in Russia to this day.

In 1984, Vladimir was arrested and sentenced to 2 ½ years of forced labor for his ministry.  Serving the sentence in a notorious labor camp known as “starvation prison” Vladimir lost most of his health.  Despite harsh treatment, he continued to share the Gospel with fellow prisoners, and several of them converted.  As a result, Vladimir was repeatedly sent to punishment cells.  In 1987, he was one in the last group of more than 200 Baptist ministers to be released in the USSR.

After coming to the United States in 1989, Vladimir founded Russian Evangelistic Ministries to support church planting in the former Soviet Union by native missionaries from the persecuted church.  Today, Russian Evangelistic Ministries supports 65 missionary families.