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RUSSIA: ANTI-MISSION MEASURES SIGNED INTO LAW
Updating RLPB 364 (6 July)
by Elizabeth Kendal
On Thursday 7 July Russia's President Vladimir Putin signed into law a controversial 'anti-terror' package which includes anti-mission measures that eviscerate religious freedom. [For detail see RLPB 364]
In signing the 'Yarovaya Law', President Putin has defied the advice of business leaders, church leaders, human rights advocates and even his own presidential advisors. It is a difficult decision to understand and disappointing beyond measure.
We must never underestimate the impact that geopolitics has on religious freedom. The Russian government is not inherently anti-Christian. However, the denominations which will be impacted most seriously by the new legislation are non-Russian Orthodox denominations, in particular Protestants, who in times of extreme East-West geopolitical tensions can be unfairly viewed with suspicion.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists: 'If the law produces any undesired outcomes, the government will introduce measures accordingly by presidential decree.'
While this is a day for mourning, it is also a day for renewed prayer for the whole Russian Church. May the eternal truth that our God is a Redeeming God continue to inspire our prayers.
'You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.' (Joseph to his brothers, in Genesis 50:20 NIV)
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL
* fill Russia's Christian leaders with 'the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so [they will] walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. [May they be] strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy [and thankfulness].' (From Colossians 1:9-14 ESV)
* not permit the repressive anti-mission measures to stand, and that as soon as 'undesired outcomes' emerge, may the measures indeed be 'amended accordingly by presidential decree'. May the Lord guide the President and grant wisdom in this regard. (1Timothy 2:1-4)
Dear God our Father,
We ask you to redeem this wicked attempt to silence the Church. Take that which was meant for harm and redeem it for good.
Though these measures will certainly produce hardship and suffering, redeem them Lord as the means by which the door is opened for public testimony concerning the richness of the wisdom of God and the transformative power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Matthew 10:16-39).
Though these measures have the potential to divide Christians and fuel suspicion and animosity, redeem them Father as the means through which the Holy Spirit will forge unity in the Body.
May Christ -- who is building his Church and shepherding his flock -- sanctify the Russian Church.
May Russia's denominations stand together as one -- united across denominational lines -- not only in defence of religious freedom, but in declaring the value of the wisdom of God and the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
For the sake of the nation and the glory of God. AMEN
Elizabeth Kendal is the author of Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Melbourne, Australia, Dec 2012) which offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat; and, After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR, USA, June 2016). For more information see: www.ElizabethKendal.com