Please pray more fervently than ever for Russian pastors and missionaries. Have you heard about the new law that Russia put into effect last summer? It prohibits any evangelism outside of the church. This is including Christians meeting in house churches, of which there are hundreds. Harold Zimmerman, his 2007 study of the world house church movement, states that there were over 800 house churches in Russia.
Zimmerman, H. (2007). Case study (Russia): The house church movement of Mother Russia. In R. Zdero (Ed.), Nexus: The world house church movement reader (pp. 338-340). Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library.
Joel Griffith, with Slavic Gospel Association, said that this law has very wide-spread ramifications. According to an article written by Eekoff Zilstra in the January issue of Gleanings (Christianity Today), there have been at least 32 pastors/church leaders arrested and prosecuted since last summer, of which 18 were convicted of breaking the law and incarcerated.
Praise International supports national Russia pastors in Russia. They have express a serious concern about how the government will enforce the law among their churches. Please pray for Russian pastors, church leaders and missionaries. Thank you.
Below are a few of the Russian pastors whom we have sponsored. If you would like to sponsor a pastor through Praise International, please contact us.
Some friends of our who work in Romania sent me this photo that they took at Easter of an Orthodox Church.
This colorful Easter Bunny and a baby Easter Bunny hatching from an egg: is this the meaning of Easter? Does it show to those who pass by this Orthodox Church the real reason why we celebrate Easter? Does it get across the beautiful and most important message of Christ’s death for our sins and His victory over death, providing forgiveness and salvation to all who put their personal faith in Jesus-Christ?
The answer is no, to all the above.
Pray for our Praise pastors (a few of them pictured below) as they preach the true message of Easter, not just at Easter, but all the time. Pray for them as they faithfully preach the Good News in all the villages where they work. The true message of Easter is what the Good News is all about!
Pastor Andi Nistoroiu, pastor in Romania, tells us this story of something that really happened: We volunteered in the National Campaign of Reading the Bible organized in Filipesti, challenging people to read God’s Word. Following this event, the local Orthodox Priest submitted a complaint to the police against us because we were talking to people on the streets. Together with two other believers from my church we had to give declarations to the police, and because we hadn’t broken the law in any way, they couldn’t do anything to us. Many people from our city appreciated what we did. As a follow-up, we were able to visit with them and give them a Bible.
In one book of the Narnia series, The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe, the White Witch puts a spell on Narnia and made it “always winter but never Christmas” for a hundred years. It’s hard to imagine going a year without Christmas. Though Christmas may have pagan origins, for Christians all over the world, December 25 has become the most celebrated religious holiday of the year, an opportunity for Christians everywhere to announce the humble advent of the incarnate Messiah to this earth: Immanuel, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
Sadly, Christmas for many people has been downgraded virtually to an annual shopping spree, licensed indulgence. Still, I am happy as a Christian to have at least one Christmas and profit from the additional opportunities we have to make Christ known.
For many years the Orthodox churches, Greek Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox and Russian Orthodox, used the Julian calendar, which had the celebration of Christmas on January 7. When the Julian calendar was revised, the date of Christmas fell on December 25, like the Gregorian calendar. Many Orthodox churches, primarily the Eastern and Russian churches, continued to use the old (non-revised) Julian calendar. This brought some confusion. During a recent interview, a Moldova young person said that most young Moldovans celebrate Christmas on December 25 and the older Moldovans on January 7. The Moldovans have a tradition of celebrating the New Year from December 31 until January 7, so the holiday celebration is drawn out into January. I read another article stating that many Protestant Christians in these Eastern European countries, and even Christians within the Orthodox Church, celebrate a “family” Christmas on December 25 and then a religious Christmas on January 7, which incidentally is the origin of the song “The 12 days of Christmas.” How would you like to have two Christmases in one year?
Russian Pastor Anatolii Alipichiv
with his family
Praise International supports and facilitates numerous native pastors in Eastern Europe: 27 Russian pastors, 6 Romanian pastors and 4 pastors in Moldova. In these countries where the people are devastated by corruption and poverty, pastors, who are solely devoted to the spread of the gospel, often cannot provide sufficiently for their families. Through Praise International, Christians in North America can sponsor one of these pastors for only $35 a month. This gift, quite insignificant for those of us living in the West, is a very generous provision for these pastors, allowing them to substancially feed their families, etc., and focus more time and energy upon their vital ministries for the Lord. If you would like to sponsor a pastor in Eastern Europe, there is a waiting list of pastors who need your help. Please contact me. Your gift will permit evangelical pastors to proclaim the good news: it’s not always winter; there IS a Christmas; and that Christmas is the celebration of Christ’s coming and His gracious provision of forgiveness and salvation to all who believe.