Last year the Russian government passed a new “anti-terrorism” law. It restricts all “religious practices to spread a faith beyond its members.” As a result, believers in Russia must now choose between obeying the law and obeying God, because this law effectively prohibits all evangelism - even in private homes.
House churches are outlawed, and believers cannot invite friends to church. Government scrutiny of online activity is now legal. The law even forbids parents to teach their children about the Bible and the Christian faith in their own homes!
A leader of the Protestant Churches in Russia called the new law a “draconian anti-religion bill.” He continued, “This law creates the basis for mass persecution of believers. Soviet history shows us that many people of different faiths have been persecuted for spreading the Word of God. This law brings us back to a shameful past.”
A group of lawyers is preparing an appeal, and a non-profit religious rights organization is reviewing the law. Both groups hope to preserve religious liberties for Russian Christians and foreign missionaries.
Many believers have already been arrested for sharing their faith, including a Baptist preacher from the USA who was accused of holding church services in his home.
This situation reminds us of the early days of Christianity, when the apostles were arrested and interrogated. “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching…” But Peter and the other apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than men!” (Acts 5:28-29).
In spite of threats and persecution, Russian church leaders are encouraging believers to continue to share their faith. As one leader said, “The Great Commission isn’t just for a time of freedom.”
Our fellow-believers in Russia need our prayers!