On July 7, 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law highly controversial legislation aimed at terrorism and extremism. However, part of the law harshly restricts missionary activity, which is very distressing news to Russian evangelicals.
The law restricts proselytizing in people’s homes, where many evangelicals gather for worship and home groups, as well as on-the-street evangelism. What especially worries FEBC and other media organizations is that the new law limits media-related evangelistic activities, including social media and Internet postings. Laypersons will no longer be able to share the Good News without special permission.
It is not exactly clear how the new law will impact evangelistic activities in Russia. Some Christians hope the law will be used against Islamic terrorist groups, but many fear that local government officials and Orthodox zealots will use it to restrict evangelical activity. Individuals found guilty of violating the new law will be fined up to $800 USD, while organizations found in violation will be fined up to $15,500. Foreigners found in violation will be deported.
FEBC affiliates in Russia who have committed themselves to bringing the Gospel to Russia since the first radio station launched in 1992 are under tremendous pressure from the government.
Despite all these difficulties, FEBC continues to grow, reaching greater number of listeners through new media, which includes satellite, online, smart phone apps, and other new technologies, in addition to FM broadcasting. “Today, we are reaching more than a million listeners on a daily basis,” said Dr. Victor Akhterov, director of FEBC Russian Ministries, “and this number will grow as we invest more into new and creative ways of delivering the Gospel.”
FEBC is also establishing a strong new presence in Ukraine and other countries in that area in order to be broadcasting to Russia from there, if need arises.
FEBC New Zealand regularly supports our FEBC partners in Russia and Ukraine. You can support FM, AM, and Internet broadcasts in these nations by clicking the Donate link below or above. Please pray for great wisdom and courage for our brothers and sisters in Christ.