Huge Fine Forces US Pastor to Shut Down Church in Russia – CBN News

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Huge Fine Forces US Pastor to Shut Down Church in Russia  CBN News 10-02-2016
American missionary to Russia is the first U.S. citizen to be accused of violating the country’s new anti-terrorism law, stating any Christian evangelism outside of the church is illegal. 
Baptist Pastor Donald Ossewaarde, 55, is set to appear in court after he held a religious service in his home and posted advertisements on bulletin boards in surrounding neighborhoods, Fox News reports.
The pastor was also fined an equivalent of US $630 for breaking the anti-religion law. The “Yarovaya” law is intended to limit the spread of terrorism and extremism but the “anti-sharing beliefs amendment” contains a provision that bans any missionary activities in non-religious settings.
Foreign missionaries are also not allowed to speak at a church unless they have a work permit from Russian authorities. Any discussion about God with non-believers is considered missionary activity and punishable by law.
“The Yarovaya laws have sent Russia careening back toward the days of the Soviet Union in terms of religious freedom,” Jeff King, president of International Christian Concern, told “Donald’s case is likely just the tip of the iceberg; these laws affect everyone in Russia, not just foreign missionaries.”
Since July, a number of missionaries have been charged and fined, including Jim Mulcahy, a 72-year-old American pastor who was arrested and deported. 
Ossewaarde said the increase in arrests is one of the reasons his wife, Ruth, returned home to Illinois.
“I didn’t feel that she was safe [here] after I had a thinly veiled threat against myself and my wife so I just figured it was time for her to go home,” Ossewaarde told The Baptist Press.
The couple began evangelizing in Russia in 1994 and would return home frequently to raise money for their ministry. 
Ossewaarde said he is making plans to follow Ruth home and they have already referred his church members to tthe Russian Baptist Church. Although he is closing down his ministry, he plans to challenge the accusations brought againist him. 
“I want to complete the appeal process,” he told The Baptist Press. “If I can successfully challenge this, it will make it easier on other missionaries that would probably otherwise be prosecuted.”
“We are very hopeful that the judge in this case will do the right thing and overturn Donald’s case on appeal,” King said. “We’re also encouraged to see the U.S. State Department taking an active interest by sending personnel to attend his trial.”
“Russia should not be allowed to get away with crushing religious freedom at no diplomatic cost to itself,” he added.

Steve Martin

STEVE & LAURIE MARTIN - LOVE FOR HIS PEOPLE FOUNDERS My good wife Laurie and I (45 years in October 2022!), through the ministry of Love For His People we founded in 2010, give love and support for our friends in Israel and in other nations with friendship, humanitarian aid, and social media support, along with Steve's messages, and our Ahava Adventures trips to Israel. Steve has also authored and published 34 books. We live in the Charlotte, NC area. We have four adult children, spouses, and eight grandkids.

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