For years we have watched as huge changes take place in Russia under the increasingly dictatorial rule of President Putin and his administration. Freedom of religion represents a threat to the current political agenda in Russia. Today, few—if any—foreign Christian mission groups have an official presence in Russia, having been pushed out by anti-evangelical regulations. Which is why it is crucial that we continue training national Next Generation Christian leaders in Russia through programs like Mission Eurasia’s School Without Walls. Equipping in-country Christian leaders with the training and tools to make disciples and influence their nation is the only effective approach to sharing the gospel in a country that is so hostile to outsiders.
I am writing today to inform you of a new, extremely alarming anti-missionary bill that is being considered tomorrow by the State Duma—the legislative house of Russia’s Federal Assembly. If passed, the bill would, among many other things, prohibit missionary and evangelistic activity in residential areas of Russia and limit missionaries to acting only on behalf of registered religious groups. I believe this is the most draconian anti-religion bill to be proposed in Russia since Nikita Khrushchev promised to eliminate Christianity in the Soviet Union.
This bill defines “missionary” as anything involving “the spread of faith and religious beliefs,” including through the Internet and media.
The passage of this bill would jeopardize the activities of most Protestant and evangelical Christian groups in Russia—and even missionaries from the Russian Orthodox Church could face restrictions. Any person speaking on behalf of a church or religious organization will be required to carry specific documentation of their registration with them at all times. Additionally, foreign missionaries would only be permitted to work at the invitation of registered religious groups.
Now more than ever, Russia is in dire need of national Christian leaders who will make a courageous stand for the gospel and their fellow believers. School Without Walls is one of the few programs in Russia that is training Next Generation Christian leaders to overcome the challenges of increasing anti-evangelical sentiments in government and society. We are in urgent need of your prayers that this bill will not pass, and that our Christian brothers and sisters in Russia would be protected and given strength and courage in this precarious time.
Russia needs your prayer. Please forward and share this information and encourage others to join in prayer for the Russian government, for Mission Eurasia’s ministry in Russia, and for Christians and church leaders in Russia. This very day, leaders from every Protestant denomination in Russia have gathered to pray and write an open letter to President Putin urging him to intervene and reject this bill through the legislature.
We know God can work miracles and influence the hearts of rulers. And so we encourage you to pray.
I cannot overstate the dangerous implications of this bill for evangelicals and Christian ministries in Russia. Please take action right now by giving to support the work of Mission Eurasia’s School Without Walls, which is training and equipping national Christian leaders to stand firm in the gospel in situations just like this one. And please pray for God’s support, protection, and wisdom for fellow believers in Russia.
Please reach out to us with any questions. I am so grateful for your partnership in the gospel!
UPDATE: The bill was passed already in the Duma and will be discussed soon in the upper chamber of the Russian parliament. This not good news.