Underground University Russia
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.
What’s the Latest? – Persecution in Russia
Samara church, before and after having their bell tower and cross removed.
Due to the fact that we were unable to travel overseas last quarter, we met with a pastor (inside of Russia) over a secure internet connection. He share with us what was happening to the Good News church in Samara, Russia. The church building was originally constructed as a personal residence (on paper), due to the fact that the government doesn’t normally grant permission for Protestant Churches to construct buildings for worship. Due to the incorrect papers and a separate violation of a building code, the authorities decided to proceed to demolish the church. They started by removing the bell tower and cross from the church.
On first glance, it would be easy to classify this incident as an unfortunate by-product of the pastor’s missteps when constructing the church. But we found this to be a part of a larger issue across Russia. Many churches are facing similar challenges. First, the Russian government doesn’t typically grant permission for Protestant churches to build churches. Officially, churches have the legal right to do this, but practically speaking the government does not allow it . . . or at least makes it extrememly difficult.
At the end of last year, a Baptist church in Arkhangelsk, had all the required/legal documentation on their building, but the local authorities still proceeded to demolish part of their building. Now the church is seeking to construct again, but the process of reregistering the construction has been highly problematic.
Currently, in Moscow there is a campaign called “A church within walking distance”, where the city is working to ensure that there is an Orthodox church close to all residential areas. There is an obvious lack of Protestant churches in these same areas, and not simply due to lack of interest. Some Protestant churches must operate in office spaces and rented houses (because owning/building is not allowed). But even renting a facility of this type is becoming more difficult as government authorities pressure landlords not to rent to these communities of faith.
Russian Evangelical Alliance meeting that discussed the problems of the Good News Church in Samara.
The pastor at the Good News church in Samara officially changed the ownership of the building which delays the decision to demolish the building. The church is also eager to make any required changes that the government asks of them, but as seen in the experiences of other churches, this doesn’t guarantee that the government will stop proceeding toward demolition.
Please Pray With Us For The Following Requests:
- Pray for the Good News Church in Samara. Authorities are threatening to demolish the building and have already removed their bell tower and cross that sat atop their building. Pray that the Lord would move the hearts of the city authorities so that the church can continue using this building.
- Pray for our continued partnership with the Russian seminary located in South Korea. Some of these students will be sent as missionaries to both Russia and other countries. Pray that these future missionaries can work alongside the underground church instead of independent from them.