Source: Intercessors Network

Legislation introduced this month threatens to make evangelism nearly impossible in Russia. “Only religious groups registered for at least 15 years will be allowed to engage in evangelistic or missionary activity,” says Bob Provost of Slavic Gospel Association. “If an overseas church were to send a youth group over to help with a summer camp (which happens a lot), or if they were to send over a music group to help with evangelistic activity, it would not be allowed. The legislation also outlaws local churches from missionary activity within hospitals, orphanages, or homes for the aged.  

Under the new legislation children will be prohibited from attending religious activities without specific permission of a parent or guardian. This would devastate ministry opportunities. “The single greatest evangelistic opportunity that the Church has today comes at Christmas time when they’re able to hold Christmas events and invite children from the community,” explains Provost. “Parents and grandparents often accompany their children to these meetings and find out that the lies that they’ve been hearing via the media or in the schools against evangelical Christianity are not true.”  

The legislation also forbids any “offers of material, social and other benefits,” leaving the range of prohibited activity almost completely open-ended. Anyone convicted under the proposed legislation (offering food to the poor, sharing the Gospel with a child, evangelizing on a short-term trip etc.) could be fined up to $500 USD. The Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists (RUECB) has responded to the legislation, but it does not appear as though the government is willing to change it.  

Provost suggests that the legislation may be being enacted in defence of the Orthodox Church in Russia. Although the Baptist Church is not growing astronomically in Russia, it is growing and may well be considered a threat. “It’s evident that president Putin, when he came into power, put the government’s arm around the Orthodox Church again in order to unify the country,” says Provost. As a result, “Any religion that starts to get in the way of the Orthodox Church is going to be considered a threat, and steps taken to remove it.”  

Amid all of the concern, the Church continues to grow in Russia. “605 men have been set apart and are ready to be sent as missionaries all over the former Soviet Union. Provost says “Nine out of ten communities are still waiting for a Gospel witness presence. In other words, nine out of ten communities have never had a Bible teaching church.” The RUECB is asking churches in Russia to fast and pray that the legislation would not be passed in any of the stages toward its becoming law. Please pray with them.

Source: Intercessors Network


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