Azerbaijan (MNN) — Azerbaijan's wide-ranging religious literature censorship system has started to affect evangelical leaders in the country.
Vice President of Russian Ministries Sergey Rakhuba was just in the country and says, "Two Baptist pastors were traveling between neighboring Georgia and Azerbaijan — authorities confiscated Azerbaijani Bibles."
According to Forum 18 News, an official of the State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations said, "Our society doesn't need books that don't suit our laws and our beliefs." He claimed that unspecified religious literature could cause unspecified "social harm and possibly inter-religious and inter-ethnic violence."
Rakhuba says an amendment allowing strict censorship will be heading for a referendum this month. He says believers may face raids reminiscent of the Cold War if the censorship issue continues. "Local police will be searching homes of evangelical leaders, and they will take all their Christian literature away from them."
This will mean little, says Rakhuba. "Basically there is a dictatorship in Azerbaijan," he says.
Russian Ministries works to empower the national evangelical church. They intend to do that despite the persecution. "We're very much considering and praying and evaluating our resources to see how we can start our School Without Walls program for the next academic year in the fall."
School without Walls is a program that helps train next generation church leaders, and Rakhuba says their work must continue. "The church is not scared. The church is growing. The church needs a lot more support to continue their ministry in the circumstances like that."
Support comes in the form of prayer and dollars. Rakhuba says financial support is wide ranging. "The church needs support for training resources, to have more Bibles, to have more Christian literature. All of this is not allowed there, but they know how to smuggle it to Azerbaijan and make it available."
Pray that God will stop the literature censorship. If that isn't stopped, pray that God would allow the training to continue and the literature to get into the hands of Christians who need it.