ICC NOTE: Despite the new fears which have plagued the Christian community in Russia, their have been signs of hope in the midst of the Yarovaya laws. Christian groups like the Slavic Gospel Association has been able to find ways to minister to previously un-reached rural villages as well as hearing of Christian organization gaining government approval for large outreach events. It is a reminder that even in the blackest of nights, the light pierces through to show the way.
9/15/2016 Russia (Mission News Network) – It’s been nearly two months since Russia’s Anti-Terrorism law took effect on July 20, 2016. Since then, various reports against Russian Christians have surfaced. Yet, there’s hope.
The Slavic Gospel Association has heard many disturbing instances of Christians in Russia persecuted for sharing the Gospel. In fact, SGA has watched summer camps be shut down as a part of this. But, SGA has also heard some encouraging stories of hope.
Hope Despite Persecution
Bret Laird of SGA explains, “The [Anti-Terrorism] law is written fairly vaguely, and so it’s really open to the interpretation of local officials. And, we’ve had both [good and bad] examples.”
“To give you a really encouraging example, there’s a group of churches in a certain area of Russia that just received government approval to hold a major public outreach event right in the city square.”
Since the Anti-Terrorism law is enforced based on local official’s interpretations, degrees of religious freedom vary from region to region. And this means, in a sense, Russia’s Christians can face both more and less religious freedom than other Western Christians.
For example, if Christians refuse business services for a same-sex wedding in the United States, they can be fined up to $80,000 in the state of Illinois. Yet, in Russia, the maximum fine for being in contempt of the Anti-Terrorism law is $7,000.
Hope in Christ
And despite freedom, or the lack of, it’s good to remember man’s law doesn’t trump God’s power or His redemptive plan.