Underground University Russia enables the church in Russia and the former Soviet Union to prepare for martyrdom and persecution amidst escalating legal restrictions. Such preparation must focus on helping the church here to remain one body with the faithful church around the world today and throughout history.
Underground University Russia
Is persecution returning to former USSR countries?
While many politicians may argue that Christians have much more freedom now than they did during the Soviet era, Christians who survived that era are beginning to see a similar pattern.
“They tell us that before the church faced its strongest persecution, the government began to put small limitations on the church,”
one VOMK staff member explained.
“The government started with smaller groups like Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, then moved on to orthodox Christianity as a whole.”
And that’s what we’re seeing again.
Russian officials began by targeting smaller sects and have moved up to applying pressure to larger groups now, such as Baptists and Pentecostals. Almost every day, there is news of another church being closed under strange pretenses. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is now recommending that Russia be declared a “country of particular concern” which is a designation for the most egregious religious violators.
While reaching out to Russian Christians, we learned the story of a pastor who the government tried to pressure into becoming an informant. When he refused, the government seized the church building and he was forced to leave the country.
Unfortunately, this story isn’t at all that uncommon. Pastors from countries once controlled by the USSR are noting the Soviet shadow is becoming darker by the day. In 2016, Russia implemented the Yarovaya Law, allegedly to get a better handle on extremism and terrorism. While this law consists of several parts, its three primary components are:
- Giving law enforcement agencies more power in order to deal with “religious extremists”
- Forcing telecommunication agencies to keep record of all conversations (as well as their time, place, and individuals involved) and hand them over to authorities even without a warrant
- Banning “missionary activities” in non-religious settings
Unfortunately, not only is the law written in a vague and general way (allowing officials to twist it in order to suit their needs), but the term “extremism” has been used to apply to everyone from missionaries to outspoken opponents to Russia’s recent activities in Ukraine. And experts predict things will only get worse.
That’s where Voice of the Martyrs Korea’s Underground University (UU) Russia comes in. The purpose of this program is to train church leaders/pastors from former Soviet states in Biblical ways to understand and overcome persecution (Theology of the Cross). We also will provide trauma care for Russian pastors who have experienced persecution and trauma and training for Russian church leaders seeking to counsel other believers.
VOMK is producing Russian language resources and also distributing the resources that have already been produced.
We are reaching thousands of Russian speakers per month with stories of God’s faithfulness during persecution. This Facebook post is about the situation in India.