Russian Orthodox interim a problem for evangelicals

By December 9, 2008

Russia (MNN) — The death of the head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch, 79-year-old Alexiy II, may cause problems for evangelical Christians in Russia.

Vice President of Russian Ministries Sergey Rakhuba says Metropolitan Kirill has been appointed the interim leader. He says Kirill is anti-western. "For evangelicals, there will be more control and more pressure because Metropolitan Kirill claims that Russia belongs to the Orthodox Church, or that the Orthodox Church should be the state church in Russia, like it used to be before the Revolution."

Rakhuba can see hypothetically that it may have an impact on Russian Ministries' outreach to children. "When the pastor of the evangelical church would like to have a ministry for Christmas in the local orphanage, they will come; and if there is an Orthodox priest who says, 'You are in Russia, and this is Russian land; get out of here,' then that's how it happens."

Rakhuba is asking for prayer and for action. "I'd like to encourage listeners to create pressure on Russian authorities to remember that democracy needs to be regarded in Russia and give people an opportunity for all Christians to worship freely."

There's already proof that more restrictions are coming to evangelicals. Rakhuba says, "Fifty-two different evangelical organizations and charities will be liquidated because they have not submitted new papers. But none of the Orthodox organizations, out of thousands, were on that list. So it tells you that the Russian government along with the Orthodox church have some kind of agreement to push evangelical activity out of Russia."

He's also asking people to pray for more resources and wisdom to address this issue with authorities.

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