Becoming a permanent resident allows us to travel in and out of the country freely, not needing to apply for a visa every time we do so. It also shows both the Russian government and the people to whom we minister that we are serious about staying in Russia for the long term. Foreign missionaries are looked upon with great suspicion in Russia. One reason is that most missionaries who live in Russia have always had one year visas,which they renewed every year. Russians want to know, "If you say you love Russia, why don't you become a resident?" In some cases Russians think that possibly you are a spy or agent of the American government.
Last year the Russian government changed visa laws. Missionaries can still apply for and receive a one year visa, but you can only stay in the country for a total of 180 days per year and then only 90 days at a time. This has caused immense difficulties with missions agencies. Families now need to leave the country every 90 days, stay out of the country for 90 days, and then come back in. This is very expensive and disruptive to ministry. We are so thankful for our Residency Permit. We can stay as long as 5 years before we renew the permit, and we can travel in and out of Russia at will. Very few missionaries in Russia have residency, and we consider this to be a blessing from God on our work here.
Thank you to everyone who has prayed with us through the last year as we went through the application process. We appreciate you all so much. May God receive the Glory!