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Systematic and systemic are two words whose meanings we have learned recently in American life, at least in the area of racism. However, for Christians in China, Russia, Ukraine and other former Soviet states still under Russian influence, these terms relate especially to religious persecution. The oppression is systematic, involving all agencies of the ruling bodies with the approval of the official Church, in the case of Russia, and in the case of China, it is brutally systemic.

The freedom to worship we so dearly take for granted and which is gradually being stripped away, does not exist in these countries as believers are punished severely for the simplest offence. The oppression is thorough and relentless. But the perpetrators of these bold deeds run the severest risk of which they are totally, if not willfully ignorant. Inevitably, they will reap the vengeance of an all-seeing God.


“And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? Lk. 18:7 (Rev.6:10).


His comforting words to ancient Israel is still good for today:


“To me belong vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.” (Deut. 32:35)


Let us keep these believers in prayer and stand firm in preserving this God-given right of conscience (RJG)


Russian Evangelicals Fined for ‘Missionary Activity’ During Pandemic


Offenses include passing out tracts and telling people to invite friends to hear the gospel


By Daniel Silliman (Feb.2022)

During the pandemic, Russia has continued its crackdown on evangelism and unregistered church activity—which includes almost all religious practice outside of the Russian Orthodox Church. The 2016 regulations restrict people in Russia from sharing about their faith or announcing church activities, even online or at home, unless permitted through a religious organization that has registered with the Russian government. Even then, evangelism is only sanctioned to occur within those designated churches.

The regulations have targeted evangelicals along with minorities such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are banned in Russia, and Muslims. Most fines end up being 5,000 Russian rubles, which Forum 18 says is equivalent to five day’s pay (about $60).
Besides Potter’s House, another Sevastopol pastor was prosecuted last year for sharing his faith outside a movie theater. In the second-largest city in Crimea, Simferopol, the pastor of Generation of Faith Pentecostal Church was punished for at least the third time for ministry activity; Artyom Morev was fined in 2017, 2018, and again in 2021.

In the town of Saki, two Baptists were caught by anti-extremist police and fined, Forum 18 reported. Both had been sharing Christian resources and Scripture without permits.

Local authorities, at times, have partnered with Russian security officials (the FSB) to raid worship gatherings. In addition to raiding a mosque, they raided a Protestant church in Kerch in eastern Crimea.

Inspectors found that church leaders “told those gathered about faith, about god [sic], about hope for another life, read the Bible and sang songs.” They discovered that two women there had been invited to attend earlier that day. As a result of the invitation, I. Denisov of the church was fined and found guilty of sharing faith with people who were not church members—which is forbidden under the anti-evangelism law.

Though Russia regulates church activity nationwide, in Crimea this oversight takes place in an area that the international community still recognizes as part of Ukraine.

Last month, Yuriy Kulakevych, foreign affairs director of the Ukrainian Pentecostal Church, described how Pentecostals acquiesced to the new reality when Russia took over in Crimea and eventually realized as citizens how much Russian evangelicals suffer. Just last year, Russia declared Ukraine’s New Generation Pentecostal groups “undesirable,” effectively banning them from the country. (A New Generation pastor in Sevastopol, Sergei Kolomoets, had previously been charged under the anti-evangelism law.)

The other contested territory, the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, has also been controlled by pro-Russia forces. During a recent visit to Kyiv, amid the escalating tensions and predictions of war, Elijah Brown of the Baptist World Alliance noted that Baptists—the largest Protestant group in Ukraine—had suffered prosecution as a result of the occupation. They have been designated as terrorists and 40 of their Donbas churches were shut down.

“If the occupation of these territories is a foreshadow of what may come to Ukraine,” he said, “it should lead all of us to pray with greater fervor.”
https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2022/february/crimea-russia-protestant-christians-religious-freedom.html

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