Alex and Taida Yefimov and Ken and Jeanne Romanoff founded Word to Russia (WTR) in 1972. WTR used short wave radio to broadcast the Gospel to the Soviet Union's Iron Curtain.
WTR's logo pictured an open Bible with the phrase "Through Radio and Literature." Working out of home office/studio, the organization's first goal was to support the persecuted Christians and broadcast the Gospel to all. Beginning with no salaried workers, no rented office space, or office equipment, Alex Yefimov began producing radio programs from the Romanoff home in Fremont, CA to be broadcast over KGEI, FEBC's short wave radio station in Redwood City.
As vice president, Ken organized speaking engagements about the work of WTR to encourage interest in the mission, and Jeanne, his wife, wrote the newsletter.
In 1977 Jeanne Romanoff became ill and could no longer continue her work. Alex Yefimov resigned as president in January of 1980 and Ken Romanoff recommended one of WTR's volunteers, Michael Lokteff, to replace Yefimov. Lokteff began volunteer work for WTR in 1976. Radio work was not new to Lokteff. His uncle had produced Russian radio programs from the Russian Baptist Church in Bryte, near Sacramento, well before the formation of WTR. When the Board contacted Lokteff about leading WTR he had already taken a leave of absence from his current employment as a teacher and was looking for a position in Christian service. He became WTR's new voice and Executive Director, effective September 1980.
Lokteff's parents had fled from the Soviet Union to China in 1932 after communists took their property. He was born in the Sinkiang province of China in 1937. After the communist takeover of China in 1947, his family fled to Shanghai for two years and then were transported to Philippines as refugees. A Christian family sponsored the Lokteff family to move to Sacramento in 1950.
Lokteff taught art and English for the Washington Unified School District in West Sacramento for 18 years until 1979, when he traveled to the Soviet Union for WTR to contact the underground church, talk to people about their needs, and deliver funds and written material. During the trip he discovered that many people listened to WTR programs.
In October 1981 the WTR office moved to West Sacramento. In 1982 the Board changed Lokteff's title from Executive Director to President.
WTR's early programs included translation of Pastor Ray Stedman's expository teaching materials, W.A. Criswell's books, and apologetic programs based on the works of Henry Morris and C.S. Lewis.
A major special project the early years was the funding of translation of the Georgian New Testament by Institute for Bible Translation in Sweden.
In late 80's and early 90's, when immigrants began to arrive, WTR began developing evangelistic programs and materials. By the late 90's an affiliate was established in Vinnitsa, Ukraine, and our vision statement was expanded to send the Gospel to the people of the FSU, "wherever they may be". We are now involved in ministry to the immigrant populations in the USA, Israel, and Europe.
Our programs and materials are now distributed world wide.