Russia (MNN) — Russian President Vladimir Putin has been named 'Person of the Year' by Time Magazine. The award is given because the person has effected great change on the global stage. In this case, the honor was conferred because he was able to bring apparent stability to Russia.
The magazine noted the growth of Russia's economy over the last five years. Under Putin's leadership, Moscow repaid a foreign debt of nearly $200 billion.
However, Putin's profile noted his serious nature and the fact that democratic freedoms have been steadily declining.
Slavic Gospel Association's Joel Griffith says the country seems to be heading in different direction. A handpicked Putin protege (First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev) can be cause for concern. "It's really a question mark about what will happen after the election is over. We just certainly hope and pray that Bible-preaching churches in Russia will be able to continue to have the freedom to worship and minister and share the Gospel. There certainly are concerns, because in some regions of the country, there's been some increasing opposition to their ministry."
The Putin era may not end when he leaves the presidency next March. He recently pledged to accept an offer of the prime minister's post at the time he steps down.
Griffith extended that unease to include the new government that is in place. The United Russia Parliament win means few allies are left in power. There will be little to protect Christians. Christians, as in other countries, are often associated with the West, and that could spell trouble for believers.
In an earlier interview, Griffith said, "If you have an anti-Western Parliament in place and if the government begins to really step up in being anti-Western, it certainly could have an impact on missionaries overseas. Who knows what effect it will have on Bible-preaching churches?"
Pray for the protection of God's people and their evangelical zeal. "We need to pray for them that the religious groups, like the Orthodox Church, who are opposed to evangelical ministry, that the Lord would not allow them to hinder the ministry that's going on. And of course, pray for ongoing political freedom, not only just for the Russian people, but for the churches to be able to fulfill their ministry."