Kazakhstan (MNN) — In former Soviet Union countries, preaching or attending an unregistered church is against the law. But if a church is registered, they have so far flown under the governmental radar.
However, according to a recent article from Forum 18 News, that seems to be changing.
Forum 18 says a visiting pastor was delivering an Easter sermon at a New Life congregation in Kazakhstan when four police officers raided the church. The pastor was accused of being a missionary and conducting illegal missionary activity; but in reality, he was a local pastor associated with the New Life network.
He and the lead pastor were brought to the Police station to write down their statements, but the police found no evidence of any law-breaking, so they were allowed to leave. This is one of the first raids on a registered church in this area.
Joel Griffith of Slavic Gospel Association says, "If this is now something that is being done by authorities on a registered church that actually has an existing legal charter, that's a definite change in the game on the ground there."
Kazakhstan's restrictions against the church have risen in the past few years, but this raid is something Griffith hopes doesn't become a regular occurrence. He says, "We're going to have to watch and see how this filters down to the rest of the registered churches."
Because of increased pressure, SGA has made it a point to be discrete when it comes to their ministries. Griffith says the pastors' safety is a "top priority."
If the situation worsens, SGA will be with Kazakh Christians every step of the way. "We're going to try to serve them however they need us to serve them," he states. "We will be there to support them in prayer and we will be able to support them however they have need for us."
Pray that the Lord would change the hearts of the authorities. Pray that Kazakh Christians will stay strong in their faith.