The nation of Russia is vast and diverse. The government is not in favor of the born again faith or true Christianity. They work hand in hand with the Russian Orthodox faith to continue to govern and have their way in the nation. The Orthodox Church is also not in favor of the born again believers and see them, not as brothers and sisters in the Lord, but as the enemy. They believe that the Orthodox Church is the only Church and to be outside of their Church means to be alienated from God and not going to Heaven when you die.
It is a classic case of religion verses the Christian faith – true believers and false converts. As Paul wrote to Timothy, “they hold to an outward form of their religion but deny the power…” That is God’s power to change lives. But, power over the people they do have. When a priest gets on a bus – they wear priestly robes in public – you are expected to get up and give them your seat. When they arrive at a place they expect and demand the best seat. If you are the speaker, they will immediately ask you to spend time with them and now would be a good time – regardless of what you had on your schedule. I know this from personal experience.
Now, when a priest becomes born again they are instant outcasts. In one case I know the man was refused permission to celebrate the sacraments and so was really stripped of his priesthood without being officially disrobed. He ended up with a great house church in the city of Moscow where I ministered last year. Great man of God who is now ministering more outside of the Orthodox circles than within. He has left his small house church and is teaching at counselling schools and others events training future leaders of the born again church.
Of course, the Orthodox church builds large ‘church’ buildings that you cannot miss. The born again believers worship in rented halls and people’s homes as either they cannot get permission to build a church building or there is no financial help to do so and the people cannot manage the costs on their own. On occasion you find a born again church with a modest building located (hidden away) in a residential section of the city.
However, God is seriously with His people and their services are amazing and God’s presence and power obvious. No religion here. Just simple, basic, plain faith in one Lord, Jesus Christ and His plan of salvation. Their leaders are dedicated and sincere and serving at great personal cost to themselves. And, it is a honor to be here ministering to them. I receive as much if not more than I give.
Your continued prayer support for this apostolic trip is greatly appreciated. We continue to pray for you every morning as well.