USA (MNN) — Bibles burned, elderly Christians arrested, and churches closed. This has all happened in Kazakhstan following the passage of a religion law that has taken away religious freedom in that country. Many human rights watchers are concerned with these human rights violations. Those concerns opened the door for many of them to meet with the Kazak Ambassador to the United States Kairat Umarov in Washington, D.C.
President of Russian Ministries Sergey Rakhuba was one of a dozen or so people who met with Umarov to talk about religious freedom issues. "We had a good time discussing issues of what the new law that regulates religious affairs in Kazakhstan in reality brings to churches and many religious groups who suffer because of this new law."
Rakhuba says the meeting included frank discussion about these issues. "I was pleased that they were openly ready to discuss all of these issues and even offering some solutions. Many local authorities are simply overzealous about implementing this law."
While Rakhuba told MNN that he believed Kazak leaders were strategically political in the way they answered questions, "I thought it was a great opportunity to address in a direct way these issues and to get a direct answer from the representatives of the government."
One of the provisions in the law requires a church membership of 50 people before it will be considered for registration. Rakhuba says, "Church planting ministry is becoming almost illegal in Kazakhstan because you cannot congregate for worship services if you have a group of 20 or 25; you cannot qualify, so there's no room even to start home churches."
Overall, Rakhuba hopes this is the beginning of the process to help the evangelical churches in the country to have a direct discussion with the ministry of religious affairs to help them have more freedom to worship.
Russian Ministries isn't stopping their work. Their School Without Walls young leader church training program and their summer camp ministry is still moving forward. "We would like people to pray for wisdom, to donate, to give resources for summer camps and School Without Walls, and to provide Scripture for all these congregations who are not stopping their outreach programs."
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