Russia (MNN) — Ministry is restricted in Russia by the 2016 Anti-Terrorism law. This law has limited Christians (and others from different belief backgrounds) from sharing their faith or evangelizing outside of registered church walls. A Christian technically is not able to have a conversation about faith in a public area. And local churches usually have had to ask permission to hold outreaches, but God works in incredible ways.
The Unexpected Question
The mayor of a town in Far East Russia asked a SGA supported church to evangelize over the Christmas holiday (in January). The pastor, with a huge grin on his face recounted the story to Slavic Gospel Association‘s Eric Mock, when he was visiting.
The pastor handed Mock a small card which had information about the Christmas program. Originally, the pastor was expecting around 700 kids to come, but things changed with he was reached out to by an unexpected individual, the mayor.
The mayor had 100 young men, juveniles held at a detainment facility and tracked by the local government. You see, life in Russia isn’t exactly easy. While it’s flourishing in Moscow, that’s not what all of Russia looks like. After all, it’s a big country.
In areas like Far East Russia, the teenage drinking, crime, and suicide rates are much higher than what it is in the United States. Why? Because there’s a hopelessness. And the only answer to this hopelessness is Christ.
“So they contacted the pastor of the church and they said ‘We see what you do with young people. How their lives turn from a life of destruction to a life of being a loving, well-developed person who makes a positive difference in the society around them.’ And they said ‘We want to send our kids to your Christmas program,’” Mock shares.
Working With The Rules
SGA-supported churches don’t try to work against the law, but with it. These churches want to be a positive part of their community and build relationships with the people there. Most of all, they want to see people come to faith. And God has used their willingness to obey Him and attempt to live in peace with all people to build for moments like this.
“In a world trying to beat down Christianity, just the reality of unbelievers looking upon the witness of the result of changed lives leads them to want to say hey, we want to send people to be a part of what you’re doing,” Mock shares.
The kids attended the program, heard the Gospel message, were given a gift, and were shown that they are loved because Christ loves them.
“Jesus makes it clear that we’re to be in the world, but not of the world. Our witness, our advancement of the Gospel is a command from our living God and so it will go forward,” Mock says. “People will be sharing their faith. People will be declaring the glory of God.”
And as people of God, Mock says we need to get behind the people who are sharing their faith and building relationships. So please, will you come alongside the Church in Russia through prayer, being aware, and giving? And will you share the Gospel in your own life too?
Be Prayerful, Be Active
“If I had a pencil, I would deeply underline this. I hope that such a story reminds every believer that a world is watching. And that their faith is not something that they just put in their pocket. They are not secret agent Christians,” Mock explains.
“God calls us to be… very visible and clear witnesses of His truth. That truth is not just a religion, but it is transformational where we see Christ working in our lives, that we put off the old and put on the new.”
Let’s start by giving glory to God and witness for Christ. Live out and show the transformed life you have through Christ, and verbally share God’s goodness.
Also, continue praying for transformed lives in Russia, and other countries from the former Soviet Union. Pray for God to continue opening doors for relationship building and for the Gospel to be shared in Russia. And finally, pray for the churches SGA supports, the people they reach out to, and for God to be glorified through it all.
“We need Christ and He needs to be proclaimed,” Mock exclaims. “And just for your listeners, please pray that the Gospel goes forward in Russia when it seems that the window is closing dramatically fast.”