“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
~ Mt 28:18-20 ESV
Q: What is the situation in Russia for Baptists right now?
Peter: We have an assignment from the Lord and we are very active. Yet, Russia is a huge territory and country. Right now, just like the political and economic sanctions on our government, we are in kind of an isolation mode. Christians feel isolated in some ways, being without support and encouragement. Laws continue to change on every side for Baptists. For some Christians, there is great confusion about who can be trusted? What is lawful for churches and individuals to do? We are in need reformation and enlightenment all around.
Churches continue to pray and move forward in ministry. We are more limited outside of the church: prisons, hospitals, schools, and public places are all illegal now. If two people are people are giving out tracts they can be imprisioned because it is considered organized and not spontaneous. Recently, two Gideon were sent to prison in Ryazan because they gave New Testaments out on the street. They had all the legal documents to do this, but they still were sent to prison. This is the reality we live in.
We are grateful to the Lord and those partners who help us build ministry. Our churches have become like training center boot camps. We still have hundreds of churches who rent or meet in homes that can be shut down at a moment’s notice.
Q: A few months back a church in the Krasnodar Region a church was shut down in the middle of their service. What is the latest situation with them?
Peter: Verkhnebakanskiy church is in standby mode. They still meet in the courtyard, but not in the building, because it has been sealed for now. We are waiting on an answer from the courts. There is a bright spot however. As Baptist, we are a real presence in the country. We are serving, loving our communities and the government needs to see this. We are working to keep rights for believers.
Q: What should people in the west be praying for?
Peter: This was the year of Unity for Baptists, and we’ve been devoting ourselves to this on every side. A few days ago different seminaries met to discuss unity with diversity regarding our differing theological views within one denomination. Pray for continued unity on that level. Along those lines, pray for Moscow Theological Seminary. We’ve had problems with the local governing authorities since October 2018, and we were shut down for 90 days, earlier in the year. All of those “issues” have been resolved, but the court will decide on January 21, whether to close it permanently or not. There are other seminaries also going through similar trials, and all Biblical schools are being thoroughly “checked”, so we are always on standby. Pray for lawyers and judges to show us favor by the hand of the Lord.