Russian President Vladimir Putin recently signed a new law that severely restricts evangelistic activity in the country. The stringent policies under this new law led an American missionary to end his ministry.
Missionaries Donald and Ruth Ossewaarde started their Gospel ministry in Oryol, Russia in 2002. They knew that this ministry wouldn’t last but they didn’t expect that they would be among the first people arrested under Russia’s new law which bans proselytizing.
Police interrupted a Bible study in Ossewaarde’s home and fined him 40,000 rubles or about $600. Two weeks after that, the Independent Baptist missionary decided to leave Russia amid veiled death threats.
“I really think that the political situation in Russia has reached a point where they are going to, one way or the other, they’re going to get rid of me,” he told Baptist Press. “So I really decided to end my operations here. It’s sad because there are people here that really enjoy what we do. It’s a big part of their life.”
Being an independent missionary, Ossewaarde had to raise his own support for his ministry. He has been conducting street evangelism and holding Bible studies and prayer meetings in his home.
According to Forum 18, five other missionaries had been arrested under the law. Ghanaian citizen Ebenezer Tuah, who heads the Christ Embassy church, was arrested and fined 50,000 rubles after police raided a sanatorium where he was performing baptisms. Sergei Zhuravlyov of the Ukranian Reformed Orthodox Church of Christ was arrested while preaching in St Petersburg and accused of “violating a provision of Russian anti-terrorist legislation that bans illegal missionary activity.”
Bpnewsnet. (2016). Baptist Press. http://www.bpnews.net/47486/sad-russian-antievangelism-law-ends-a-ministry
Christiantodaycom. (2016). Christiantodaycom. http://www.christiantoday.com/article/us.missionarys.work.ended.by.russias.anti.evangelism.law/94482.htm