08 Jul 2016
The ability of Christians in Russia to share the gospel with relative freedom is under immediate threat after a new law was signed by President Putin yesterday [7 July].
The Anti-Terrorism bill, which was approved by both the lower house and upper house of the Russian Federal Assembly, could be used to limit evangelism to “specially designated places” like registered churches and even forbid Christians from telling their friends about Jesus over email, or sharing their faith in their own home – a huge problem for Russia’s house churches.
The potential impact for Innovista's ministry in Russian Siberia is huge.
This new law would inhibit the ability of young leaders to lead churches and ministries that communicate and demonstrate the hope of the gospel to those who don’t yet know Jesus – the very thing that Innovista and our supporters are training them to do better.
Mission Under Threat
Observers in Russia state that the new law - proposed by Irina Yarovaya to limit the threat of violent religious extremism - could limit preaching, praying and “engaging in any activity designed to recruit people into a religious group.” Evangelism is set to be restricted to “specially designated places” like registered churches, most of which are Orthodox and don’t include new expressions of church like Slavic’s that meet in a home or other building.
There was a glimmer of hope when President Putin signed the bill into law, because he also initiated a decree for the government to keep an eye on its implementation, perhaps aware that the bill may have unintended consequences.
Whilst it is unclear just how vigorously these laws will be enforced, what is clear is that the Church in Russia needs us to stand alongside them in prayer.
Pray for the Church in Russia
Two years ago, we wrote to Innovista supporters to ask them to pray that a new law in Ukraine which would limit Innovista’s ministry would be overturned. Six days later, we wrote back with good news: the same MPs who voted for that law, voted against it.
We each have stories of God doing what seemed impossible.
So we ask you to stand in faith and in prayer with our brothers and sisters in Russia; with Innovista's team there; with the Church; and with its young leaders who are passionate about sharing the hope of Jesus with others, no matter what the cost.
Three Ways You Can Help
Thank you for standing with Innovista's team in Siberia and with the Russian Church at this time.