Foreign missionaries under pressure in Russia

By November 21, 2005

Russia (MNN) — Reports indicate Russia may begin to tighten control over foreign missionaries in the weeks ahead. According to reports the Justice Ministry plans to tighten the rules for granting visas to foreign missionaries. That’s causing a major stir in religious sectors.

Vice President of Russian Ministries’ Sergey Rakhuba has been in Moscow and says theses new controls will limit foreign missionaries. “Especially with their visas, registration, and especially they have to report to the government about their activity in Russia. What do they do? What kind of group they represent? What kind of ministry they have? It sounds like it’s all going back like it was during the Soviet time.”

It appears these regulations aren’t coming from the government. Rakhuba says, “At this time Russian Orthodox Church initiates all of this. And, they inspire the Russian government to help control other religious groups. Basically it means they want to monopolize all religious activity.”

According to Rakhuba, this will mean little for Russian Ministries. “We’re registered in Russia as an indigenous organization and we will continue working, although there will be some issues because they would probably like us to report how we work with children, what kinds of materials we use.”

But, any foreign missionaries working with their organization or others will have trouble. “So, they either have to turn into tentmakers and work under the business visa, or something else, but I know next year lots of foreign mission groups will have some problems.”

These new restrictions won’t mean much to church growth in the region says, Rakhuba. “I don’t think that it will affect evangelism because you cannot stop people from talking about Christ. You cannot stop people talking about their experiences with Jesus. And, that’s what Russian Ministries is doing.”

Funding is need for their School Without Walls young leader training program and the Evangelism, Church Planting Centers which are key to seeing young leaders develop into pastors and lay church leaders which is key to seeing the church grow.

Leave a Reply