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Russia

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Russian Christians at worship

On 6 September 2012 a Pentecostal church building in Moscow was torn down by the authorities during the night. The congregation had struggled for many years to legalise the building, but they were given no advance warning of the demolition and were unable to prevent it. A human rights official denounced the action, saying, “This is the Soviet approach – to come in the middle of the night with mechanical diggers. This is unacceptable.”

In former times, Orthodox Christianity was a strong part of the identity and culture of Russia, which saw itself as a bulwark against the Muslim Tatars and other Muslims of Central Asia. Decades of persecution under communist rule (1917-1990) have left their mark on the very diverse people of this vast country. Estimates suggest that about 200,000 Christian leaders were martyred during this period, and a further 500,000 Christians were imprisoned. However, the Communists’ threat to destroy Christianity and to parade the Soviet Union’s last Christian on television never came true. Instead the end of Communism heralded a massive increase in churches, churchgoing and Christian activities.

Yet in recent years a climate of hostility and antagonism against Christians has spread. The incident described above is just one example of the harassment that is faced by “non-traditional” churches in Russia (those other than the Russian Orthodox Church). They are obliged to register with the authorities and may be burdened with demands for information; unregistered groups can be dissolved. They may have difficulty in obtaining construction permits or in renting or buying meeting-places. Occasionally their services are raided, their literature and other property confiscated, and their members detained. Rising intolerance in society at large is reflected in disparaging remarks made about them in the media.

Some areas of the country have large Muslim populations, and radical Islam is growing here. The North Caucasus has been stricken by a violent insurgency driven by Islamists who are fighting to establish a separate state ruled by sharia. Wahhabism, the extreme and puritanical version of Islam practised in Saudi Arabia, has been spreading, and Christians face harassment, intimidation and persecution from the Muslim majority. In Chechnya women are under pressure to wear the hijab. In April 2012 a Muslim lawyer threatened a “bloodbath” if Muslim demands for the introduction of sharia courts in Russia were not met.

 

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christian, persecution, charity, church, persecuted, sookhdeo, Islam

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    • Give thanks that the authorities in Egypt are pursuing justice for the Christian community following widespread violence against them by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood last summer. Christians were scapegoated by the Islamists for the downfall of President Mohammed Morsi. On 14 August, mobs torched scores of churches, Christian institutions and private property in what was described as the worst single day of violence against the Egyptian Church since the 14th century. Over 100 Muslims have been charged in connection with the attacks; at the time of writing they were due to stand trial for rioting, attacking citizens and targeting the churches and homes of Christians. Pray that justice will be done and restitution made to churches and individuals who suffered material losses. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 8 hours ago

    • “I was so happy and treasure this Word of God. It brings me so much peace and hope.” Uu Dee KoMang, an elderly woman in Burma (Myanmar), was one of many Christians who recently received a Kachin Bible through Barnabas Aid. Two years ago the Burmese army entered her village and ordered everyone to leave within the hour. Uu Dee took some clothes and food and ran, but her Bible was too heavy to carry. Now living in a relocation camp, she regretted not taking it, until the Bibles from Barnabas arrived. Pray that God’s Word will comfort and strengthen these believers who have lost so much and will give them encouragement for the future. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Jul 2014 00:00

    • Pray for three Christian prisoners of conscience in Vietnam who are being denied access to Bibles and other sources of spiritual support. Prison guards in Hanoi and Thanh Hoa province have refused to allow Le Quoc Quan, a lawyer and activist, and bloggers Maria To Phong Tan and Paul Tran Minh Nhat to receive visits from their church leaders and have prevented them from receiving Communion. Maria is serving a ten-year prison sentence in a harsh labour camp; she has been beaten by other inmates. Pray that the Lord will sustain and build up the faith of our brothers and sister as they cry out to Him in their need (Psalm 142:6). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Jul 2014 00:00

    • Five ethnic Hmong Christian families in Vietnam have been attacked by their neighbours in attempts to get them to renounce their faith. On 26 February, Hang A Khua and his family were ordered to recant by public security officers, backed by around 30 villagers from Trun Phu in Dien Bien province; when they refused, the officers ordered the villagers to attack them. The mob ransacked and demolished the family’s house; their rice fields were confiscated, and they were expelled from the district. In Son La province, four more Christian families were similarly threatened in March. One couple were attacked in their home; they were kicked and punched, and the wife was dragged out of the house by her hair. Give thanks for these families’ courageous stand for Christ and pray that they will find strength in Him. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Jul 2014 00:00

    • Pray for around 400 Christian families in the Con Dau area of Da Nang province in Vietnam whose homes have been demolished. The Christians were driven from their homes in a raid by police, security agents and the army at 7am on 27 March. The authorities have seized the land to build a luxury tourist resort; they decided in 2010 to destroy all the houses and the local cemetery used by the displaced Christians, who have been offered no adequate compensation or any help for resettlement. Pray that God will meet all their needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Jul 2014 00:00

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