Ukraine’s apparent president-elect may hurt religious freedom

By February 9, 2010

Ukraine (MNN) — Election watchers in Ukraine say Sunday's presidential run-off election was fair. That's pressuring western-leaning Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to concede to pro-Russian opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych.

The opinion of international monitors carries great weight in Ukraine–a country with a history of rigged voting. In order to mount a successful battle to overturn the outcome, Tymoshenko would almost certainly have needed some ammunition from the observers.

But they gave her little, calling the voting "an impressive display of democratic elections."

Vice President of Russian Ministries Sergey Rakhuba is concerned with the results. "He [Viktor Yanukovych] will, in most cases, copy what happened in Russia in terms of religious freedom. That's where our concern is and that's what we'd like all our supporters to pray for: that the unlimited freedom for evangelism, ministry and church growth will continue to remain there."

Yanukovych has already attempted to pass a restrictive religion law two weeks ago. "Evangelicals pushed back, and they took it off their agenda at the parliament. But, we're very much concerned that it will come back," says Rakhuba.

Rakhuba says as Yankukovych receives more power, he expects this bill to receive even more support. However, he has an uphill battle. "I doubt that this new president will be able to accomplish a lot. Half of the country is not supporting him, but he will get some of his agenda through."

Even if religious freedom is curtailed, Russian Ministries is confident their ministry will continue as Ukrainians are the ones doing the work.

One example, says Rakhuba, is their Schools without Walls program. "We provide basic biblical training. We help them with character formation, with skill training. We help them to get involved more actively involved in outreach on behalf of their churches and to mobilize their churches to get involved in the community."

Schools without Walls focuses on university students who are getting a secular education to help them earn a living, in addition to wanting a less-formal education to help them use their profession as a way to share their faith, and more importantly, to become leaders in the local church.

This training is needed because many are unable to work in ministry full-time because they can't support their families on ministry salary.

If you'd like to financially support Schools without Walls, click here. You can also find out about their Vacation With a Purpose this summer to learn more about what God is doing in the Ukraine.

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