A reader who has supported the Russian Forerunner (Predvestnik) sent us a clipping from USA Today which reported pending legislation that would lead to restrictions of foreign missionary activity in the Russia. This supporter of ministry in the former USSR was concerned and asked:
“Does this mean the end of the ministry of The Forerunner in Russia?”
Editor’s response: Boris Yeltsin never signed this bill into law. In Yeltsin’s proposed constitution, there is a religious liberties clause that would prohibit such law as unconstitutional.
Many people have expressed concern about the prospect of the door closing in the former USSR. Many Christians believe that this is inevitable. Some who were brought up in the Cold War see Russia as “the enemy” and do not expect reforms in that country to be permanent. Others hold to a worldview that does not see lasting victory for the kingdom of God over the kingdoms of darkness occuring within history.
We should remember that God has opened the door in the former USSR and only He can close it. The Bible states: “For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14). The gospel is destined to be advanced in all of the former republics of the USSR. Our outlook should be one of victory and Christ’s kingdom advancing in the nations without retreat.
However, there is the very real danger of the danger of the door closing in another sense: the people of the former USSR may not remain as spiritually open as they have been in the last few years. The government may also pass restrictions on what Christians are able to do in evangelism and church planting. Therefore, it has been an urgent priority to establish a Reformation newspaper. We acted as quickly as possible to set this up and train a staff when the opportunity arose.
The key phrase in the USA Today article was: “The law would require foreign religious leaders to gain state accreditation.” Since staff members of Predvestnik are Ukrainian citizens, they ought to be able to publish their own newspaper without interference. Predvestnik has been registered under the laws of Ukraine with the purpose of distributing literature to the people of the former USSR. Predvestnik has produced three issues in 1993 with no unusual problems.
Predvestnik is published under the auspices of Media House, a Ukrainian-American joint venture in Kiev. Unless the newly established Republic of Ukraine passed a similar law, Predvestnik should not be affected.
The Forerunner will continue to raise funds for Predvestnik. We plan to use the Russian Forerunner as a base to print a newspaper to reach the millions of Muslims throughout the former USSR. We also plan to print a Chinese language newspaper: The Mandate for distribution in mainland China. See the back page for information on how you can help support these exciting international projects!