Despite controversies, Elimar Brandt of Berlin, a Baptist pastor and long-time director of Christian health-care facilities, see reasons for hope within the Baptist church of Georgia. After five years of post-graduate studies in Oxford/UK, its long-time head, Dr. Malkhaz Songulashvili, returned to Georgia in April 2014. Yet soon he was no longer archbishop: that position is now held by a more conservative colleague, Merab Gaprindshvili.
Even prior to the return from England, a grouping calling itself the „Evangelical Baptist Association of Georgia“ had broken off from the mother „Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia“ (EBCG) in October 2013. The Association has roughly 30 congregations and 800 members; the EBCG according to some reckonings may have as few as 2.000 adult members.
„I don’t notice any front between Merab and the other three bishops,“ Pastor Brandt maintains. (Brandt has visited Georgia frequently in the course of the past two decades.) “Merab was and remains a pupil of Malkhaz, who always has been a strong influence on him and Bishop Ilja (Osephashvili). It’s a kind of father-son dispute. I find it very laudable that the (stay-home) bishops did not attempt to resolve everything in Malkhaz’ absence. All sides are attempting to find a way back to each other – that’s my reason for being optimistic. The experiences they have gathered during the course of the controversy have been very challenging and formative.” Continue reading “William Yoder – Healthy Debate is Needed. A conversation on the Baptists of Georgia”
NOTE: The text below was written twenty years ago, yet it is as valid as it was when it was first published, not just for Russia, but for the entire Central & Eastern Europe..
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The church of Russia, as the churches in other post-Marxist countries, needs help from the global church–meaningful help! Let me briefly spell out some basic requests from a Russian Christian to a Western church wanting to support the mission of the church in post-perestroika Russia.
- Incarnational Rather Than Organizational
In this respect I want to identify basic attitudes which, I believe, a good missionary to my country would need: become one of us and we will listen to you. Live as we live, but without sin, and we will copy you. The answer is not to talk about solutions, but to live them out. The answer is not the Christ of the Text, but Christ incarnate. Continue reading “Johannes Reimer – Mission in Post-Perestroika Russia”
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. Continue reading “An Urgent Call to Prayer for Russia – UPDATE”
M o s c o w – On 18 March, Moscow’s Sergey Vasilevich Ryakhovsky, Senior Bishop of ROSKhVE, the “Associated Russian Union of Christians of Evangelical-Pentecostal Faith”, turned 60. Despite his many detractors in Ukraine and the West, Russian evangelicals have reason enough to thank Ryakhovsky for his efforts in the public and political realm. Russian nationalists have long wanted to prove that evangelicals are foreign, pro-Western half-spies, the lengthened arms of Western governments reaching over and beyond the political divide. The Bishop and his cohorts are doing what they can to keep the nationalists from winning the day. He’s the Dutch boy plugging the dike with his finger, keeping the onslaught from turning into a deluge. He is attempting to keep the public presence of Russia’s Protestants afloat by proving that Protestants are loyal servants of their societies even when they find themselves beyond the reach of NATO and the European Union. Left to their own devices, the West’s pro-Maidan evangelicals would in my view virtually prove the claims of Russia’s nationalist movement.
In an interview published by “Moskovsky Komsomolits” on 21 March, the birthday kid claimed: “I will not hide the fact that the members of our denomination are active in all branches of government.” Yet he also admits in the article that not all of these feel free to express their religious allegiances openly. Publicly, the Bishop tries hard to be up-beat and constructive; he likes to claim that accusations of sectarianism are becoming a thing of the past. In the interview he states: “Let me remind you that I have been a member of the ‘Presidential Council for Cooperation with Religious Organisations’ since 2002 and a member of the ‘Public Chamber’ since 2005. My membership would be cancelled within seconds if the federal government changed its attitude towards Protestants.”
After Ryakhovsky famously posed with President Putin and the heads of Russia’s largest religious faiths in Red Square on 4 November 2014, an “Itar-Tass” press release listed his Pentecostal denomination among the “leading traditional Russian confessions”. “Fortunately”, the Bishop’s location on the right edge of the photo allowed him to be cropped off by some agencies, but the press release itself was sufficient cause for heart attacks on the part of Russia’s nationalist faithful. Continue reading “William Yoder – The Fellow with His Finger in the Dike. Sergey Ryakhovsky turns 60”
Note of the blogger: The text below proves, again, what an embarassment the foolishnes of Franklin Graham is to his illustrious father. Read for yourself (I have undelined certain passages, for out help). I need to say no more. (D.M.)
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God: Big Enough to Stomach Us Both
M o s c o w — Rev. Franklin Graham’s visit to Moscow from 28 October to 1 November was surely the most “politically incorrect” visit of a Western church leader to Eastern Europe in decades. A foreboding of things to come had arisen when Graham assured at the outset that he was praying for Vladimir Putin. Franklin Graham, chairman of the “Billy Graham Evangelistic Association” had previously only visited Russia in 1984 along with his famous father. Franklin did hold evangelistic campaigns in Ukraine in July 2007 and June 2014.
Ukrainian Baptists had ridiculed the “Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists” for a statement on 30 May 2014 which lauded the divorced Russian leader for “protecting and strengthening spiritual and moral values”. Graham repeated the transgression in his meeting with RUECB leadership on 28 October by assuring that Putin “defends Biblical values from the attacks of secularism”. On the basis of his statements in Moscow, Graham sees Putin as a major defender of the historic Christian faith. Barack Obama on the other hand is “without a Christian worldview” and “promotes atheism”.
Mainstream media – the “Washington Post” for ex. – have repeated branded Putin a “fascist”. Yet Graham insisted in Moscow that millions of simple Americans would like to see Vladimir Putin candidate for the office of US President. God has given Putin the wisdom necessary to “lead a massive country, which God has blessed”. Graham met personally with the Russian president for 45 minutes during the Moscow sojourn. Continue reading “William Yoder – A Commentary on Evangelist Franklin Graham in Moscow”
Liana Enli Manusajyan
During my trip to Armenia, that I have just finished, I had the privilege of meeting Liana Manusajyan, a young human rights lawyer, who is also a member of the Advisory Council of World Vision Armenia.
During our short meeting we were able to talk about the recent peaceful demonstrations in Yerevan, Liana being one of the organisers. She has the kindness of responding to a few questions and allowed me to publish here her answers. Here is the short interview.
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DM – Armenia is, for me, a paradoxical country. Armenians are smart, industrious and well educated people. However, Armenia, to a certain extent like my own country, Romania, is a poor country. How do you explain this paradox?
LEM – The reason of our paradox is monopolization of fields. No competition. Everything is centralizes in the hands of few people who don’t allow the competition.
DM – Because of its geographic location, of complex historical circumstances and the decision of its leaders in the last two decades, Armenia is under the spell of Putin Russian empire. Along the years I have been surprised by the level of acceptance that Armenians have of this political and economic dependence of the ‘Bi+g Bear’. Am I right? And, if so, why do you think this is the case?
LEM – You are right. The thing is that Russia wants to have control over economy and politics in Armenia. We have economical dependence on Russia and till we won’t find other alternatives to escape that economical dependence we should somehow take them into account.
Continue reading “Liana Enli Manusajyan About ‘Electric Yerevan’ – An Interview”
Smolensk – The express train from Kiev to Konstantinovka storms toward the front lines at up to 100 mph – Konstantinovka, located to the west of Donetsk, is the present end station. War-damaged Croatia left a different impression two decades ago. Back then, I experienced aged busses on detours chugging slowly up mountain passes.
In Slaviansk, Eastern Ukraine looks remarkably robust. Since the “rebels” departed on 5 July of last year, the city has been busy hammering and sawing. War damage is now only apparent on the fringes of the city; schools, hospitals and municipal offices are working full steam. Innumerable street potholes still point to the events that transpired a year ago.
The city’s three large Charismatic-Pentecostal churches have been major players in the rebuilding process. These are the churches now up on top in Slaviansk. Peter Dudnik reported on 1 April that helpers associated with his congregation had repaired 112 of the 1.500 damaged private dwellings and built four new ones from the ground up.
The humanitarian efforts of Dudnik, the second head pastor of the large „Good News“ congregation, have made him a household name throughout Ukraine. His congregation has major connections and sports a constant steam of construction and humanitarian workers arriving from western Ukraine, Germany and the US. In the office of his congregation, representatives from the local government and military are frequent guests. Continue reading “William Yoder – Report on A Visit in Slaviansk and Kiev”