Thursday, September 10, 2009

Persection in Kamchatka

Persecution can take many forms. In Kamchatka, the peninsula hanging down from the farthest east of Russia, it has been burdensome regulations and regulators. Churches are not allowed to rent, yet cannot buy property. Why can't they buy? Because they must buy from the State who owns it all and won't sell. I know of one instance where a large church, about 500 or so, had been meeting in a theater in Petropavlavsk. They wanted to buy their own land and build. So the government sold them a trash pit behind some buildings. Then they were told that they had to build it to be able to withstand a 9.0 earthquake - same as a nuclear power plant. They were building it to seat 1500 people. Each of the supporting pillars had to have its own foundation that went two stories deep. Additionally, it had to be made with a continuous pour method. Since such methods needed delivery trucks that were not in existence there, this church ran a 1/4 yard mixer 24/7 for two years making these foundations. The cost was astronomical. They had support from people outside Russia, but the lions share was raised by the local church themselves.

In the middle of this building project, the theater was slated for demolition. So this church tried to lease a facility. Having found one, they went to use on the first Sunday morning and found it chained and locked. The new manager of the building told them that unfortunately the church would not be able to use it.

"Why not?" he was asked.

"Because the last manger lost his job for renting it to you and I can't let that happen to me" was the reply.

The only alternative was to meet in the basement of the unfinished building. The basement was safe and could be warmed. So for two years or so this church has been meeting there while they try to complete their building.

During all this time the trash pit they were given to build in's location became prime real estate. It was right in the middle of the high rent district. Fees and costs continued to skyrocket and harassment from the media grew intense. Just recently, in June, they were told that they cannot meet in the basement anymore for violation of codes.

So they bussed the entire congregation, at the cost of $800 each Sunday, to another facility they had that was used as a camp and a school. Now they find out that all of a sudden they are in violation of fire codes and will be sued and closed down there too. The whole country is in violation of fire codes! It could easily be worked out or dismissed if anyone were so inclined. But not with these folks in the government.

So now this church is in a dilemma. They need to come up with over $1,000,000 to finish the project before the end of the year and the powers that be want this land for themselves. Most people there make just over a few hundred dollars a month. If everyone gave all their income from now to then it wouldn't even be close to enough. So they are asking for prayer.

Pray for the money and the workers (both there and for those who are willing to go), but also pray they they wouldn't be distracted from their real call of reaching the world with the gospel and establishing churches. They have already established more than 25 other churches in the midst of all this turmoil. People are still coming to the Lord each week. They need the help of the body of Christ around the world to pray with them to our God who answers prayer.

Our God is faithful and He can do anything - nothing is impossible to God.

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