Kosovo independence could mean trouble for western Christians

By February 25, 2008

Russia (MNN) — Moscow's envoy to NATO warned that Russia may resort to "brute military force" to earn respect on the world scene if all EU nations and NATO oversteps its authority in Kosovo. Dmitry Rogozin says Western countries are ignoring international law by recognizing Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia.

Vice President of Russian Ministries Sergey Rakhuba is concerned that this latest political development will make it even more difficult on the evangelical church in Russia with connections to the west. "The tension that is growing and Russian authorities think that all these ministry organizations will bring in [outside] influence, which Russia is developing its own political approach and defending its traditional allies."

Rakhuba says non-governmental organizations are particularly at risk, and the government has already passed legislation to restrict their work in Russia.

He says as the tensions increase, "I sense personally that there could be some effect especially on mission organizations and NGO's in Russia that represent the western ideas in that part of the world."

Even though Russian Ministries is 100% indigenous, they do receive resources from the West. "So we are less vulnerable than others, but still overall it affects our ministry because we are the evangelical church. We are more pro-freedom."

While some believe religious freedom will be curtailed, Russian Ministries is focused on training Next Generation Church Leaders. "We think it's very important to train young people to be more tolerant on political choices of the current generation, but also to train the Next Generation who will lead the church into the future."

As they're trained, Rakhuba says, "They'll be capable to teach, to be peacemakers, to be good society members, and of course to be good Christians as an example in spite of all these political problems."

Russian Ministries isn't only working in Russia, Rakhuba says. "We are working in the former Soviet countries of Central Asia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Each of these places is different, but each of them equally needs the next generation for their evangelical churches."

They do that through their Schools Without Walls program that equips future leaders for evangelism and church-planting. Rakhuba says without it, "The Russian evangelical church may suffer because of the lack of young leaders who can lead the church in current situations."


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