For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My Word be that goes out from My mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10-11
With all of the shootings, bombings and terroristic plots doing their worst, every country is trying to make itself as safe as it can.
For that reason, it is not surprising that Russian president Vladimir Putin recently approved a package of anti-terrorism laws, which are designed to keep the average Russian citizen safe from those who would wish to harm them.
Amazingly, some of those laws place tight restrictions on missionary activity and evangelism.
And if I hear you saying, "How tight can these restrictions be?" -- well, I'll tell you:
* Now you cannot send out an e-mail inviting someone to church.
* You cannot mail a letter asking someone to join you in worship.
* You cannot sit at your own supper table with guests and evangelize.
* Indeed, the only place you can discuss religion with others is in the confine of a church building.
Of course, you and I know that some laws are decoration and are passed without any intention of implementation. That is probably not the case here. Although the jury is still out, last month a local police officer came to a home church and, with a smug look, announced, "Now they're adopting the law; I'll drive you all out of here."
Oh, there's probably two other things you ought to know:
First, the law doesn't apply universally to everyone, that is, all religions. While it does not apply to the Russian Orthodox Church, it does speak to evangelicals and most Protestant organizations that must now be registered under a state-recognized denomination.
The other thing you ought to know is this: the moving force behind the law is the Russian Orthodox denomination, which wishes to keep Russian people safe from strange and foreign denominations.
In short, one denomination is stopping other denominations from sharing the Savior.
Now all of us know there are some pretty strange preachers out there who are presenting some pretty strange doctrines. Still, we believe the Lord's Word will accomplish what the Lord wishes. Stopping almost all witnessing is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
And that, my friends, is a very sad commentary on this world. While we may not be surprised with atheists, agnostics, doubters, deniers and other global faiths trying to shut down the Christian witness, it is a shock when such a move is inspired by another church.
This is why I invite you to join me in a slightly revised "Collect for the Word."
THE PRAYER: Blessed Lord, who has caused all Holy Scripture to be written for our learning, grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by the patience and comfort of Thy Holy Word we, and the peoples of Russia, may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which Thou hast given us in our Savior Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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