Tensions between Russia and Georgia take toll on the church

By August 21, 2008

Georgia (MNN) — Russia is slowly
beginning a pullout of Georgia. Humanitarian aid trucks are going in, but residents are still very
jittery.   

In fact, many fear the tinderbox
situation could reignite into war. Both Russia and Georgia have been accusing each other
of genocide and ethnic cleansing during the five-day war in the Caucasus.

Even as they are hopeful of
returning home soon, Russia's presence
means once neighborly Ossetians and Georgians are now enemies.

With international pressure
mounting, President Dmitry Medvedev says withdrawal from Georgia would be completed within three days. However, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice says contrary to that report, there's still no proof that it's being carried
out. 

Jonathon Shibley with Global Advance
says their ministry was scheduled for a conference in Georgia this week. With all of the military action taking place,
there were obvious security concerns.

"Our team was at the border
of Armenia and Georgia, having just completed a pastors' gathering in
Armenia. They received some news at the
border, coming from within Georgia, that really made them decide that this would
not be an appropriate time to go in for safety  
concerns, both for their sake and for the gathering of leaders."

While the Frontline Shepherd's Conference was called off, Shibley says it's not a total loss. The events
are catalysts for church planting and indigenous mission efforts. And yet,
because there was already a body of Christians gathered anticipating the
training, "It could potentially be an opportunity for these pastors still to come together and just use this as a strategic time of prayer and
intercession for the nation. This was
going to be a multi-denominational gathering of pastors and leaders of various
churches, and we hope that somehow they'll still be able to convene."

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