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  • Christian Persecution Under Russian Control

    Ukraine flags raised at an anti-war demonstration
     

    As the world's focus remains on the devastating violence being inflicted on the people of Ukraine, many are wondering what this could mean for those of the country's Christian community. In the days leading up to the initial attack by Russian forces, pastors spoke messages of encouragement and care. In fact, so many Ukrainians were seeking God for needed comfort, and wanting to turn to the Scriptures in search of answers, that the Bible Society store in Kyiv ran out of Bibles.

  • Christian Literature Deemed "Extremist"

    Russian version of In the Shadow of the Cross - Photo: Felix
    This Russian edition of VOMC's "In the Shadow of the Cross" is thankfully not one of the officially banned books.

    A court in the self-declared Luhansk People's Republic of eastern Ukraine has declared four more Christian books "extremist" after confiscating these resources from local church members. The official list of banned literature now contains 26 titles, including 18 books published by Protestant Christians and six by Jehovah's Witnesses. One of the items is a Russian translation of the Gospel of John, which was banned in November 2019 (learn more).

  • Harassment Against Unregistered Churches

    Emmanuel Baptist Church, Luhansk - Photo: Wikimapia / Butilkavodi
    Emmanuel Baptist Church, Luhansk
    Photo: Wikimapia / Butilkavodi

    Leaders of the unrecognized Luhansk People's Republic in eastern Ukraine have continued a campaign against unregistered church communities. The pro-Russian leaders of this breakaway region insist on registration for all religious organizations. However, of the 195 organizations registered in 2019, 188 were Russian Orthodox. The remaining seven are either Muslim, Old Believer, Jewish or Catholic. No Protestant churches have been allowed to register.

  • Books Banned in Luhansk

    Ukrainian Bible

    Authorities in the unrecognized Luhansk People's Republic in eastern Ukraine have banned 12 books, including a popular translation of the Gospel of John, calling them "extremist" materials. The November 26th ban came a week after the Luhansk Supreme Court overturned a ruling ordering the destruction of books belonging to a Baptist pastor. Along with the Gospel of John, the banned books include the main hymnbook used by the Council of Churches Baptists, a regular magazine published by the church group, as well as children's books.

  • Worship Ban in Luhansk

    Police Raid - Photo: Forum 18 www.forum18.org
    Police raid at the
    Krasnodon Baptist Church.
    Photo: Forum 18

    As of 2014, the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine has been under the control of rebels. Since then, the self-declared government imposed oppressive religious restrictions. Last year, an order was made that no religious groups may hold services of any kind without registration. Subsequent to the deadline of October 2018, no Protestant church of any kind was granted registration. (See this report for more details.)

  • Increasing Restrictions in Breakaway Regions

    Luhansk, Ukraine - Photo: Flickr / Ozolus www.flickr.com/photos/74687726@N00
    Luhansk, Ukraine
    Photo: Flickr / Ozolus (cc)

    Areas in eastern Ukraine, now controlled by Russian-backed rebels, have placed increasingly harsh restrictions on any non-Orthodox religious groups. Christians are facing demands to register, as well as orders to stop all religious activities.

  • Registration Deadline Passes for Luhansk Churches

    A sillhouette of a cross, a man praying and a church in the background - Photo: Pixabay / Geralt

    Since rebels in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine declared independence in 2014, the self-declared government has oppressed religious groups in various ways. As part of their efforts to control the churches, the Luhansk State Security Ministry announced a complete ban on one Baptist denomination for not submitting to compulsory registration. For more information, click here.

  • Armed Raids and Fines in Luhansk

    Bible

    In the self-declared Luhansk People's Republic, armed police are frequently raiding worship services, seizing literature and fining those in attendance. Along with the raids, the Luhansk State Security Ministry has announced a complete ban on the All-Ukrainian Union of Evangelical Christian/Baptist Churches, claiming that the organization has refused to submit to compulsory local registration.

  • Religious Freedom Under Threat

    One year since the annexation of Crimea by Russia, Ukrainian Christians say they are facing persecution by separatists. Evangelical churches in particular have come under severe restrictions in Crimea, and a church leader is warning that Ukrainian churches will also lose their religious freedom if the Russians take control of their country.

    "Paul," a partner of VOMC's sister mission in the United Kingdom, reports of separatists accusing evangelical Christians in the Ukraine for spying on behalf of the West. Subsequently, the separatists have confiscated their church buildings. Paul, who planted many churches in the former Soviet Union, further notes that some believers in the occupied areas were even killed. "After annexation, Ukrainian churches (were told) they had no right to exist there," Paul explains. "Every church has had to be re-registered. Some pastors and priests have been forced to accept Russian citizenship." Those who refused, he adds, were forced to leave.

    Amid the current climate of instability, pray that the faith of believers living in Crimea and Ukraine will be unwavering and secure. Additionally, ask God to work in the hearts of the separatists so that they, too, will come to accept Jesus as Saviour and Lord. May He also bless Paul and the other Christian workers ministering in this troubled area of the world, granting them greatly needed wisdom and encouragement as they faithfully serve these suffering Ukrainian people.

  • Oppression of Christians Escalates

    Pray for the safety of church members in Ukraine.
    Photo: Flickr / Peter Collins

    Since the political uprising began in Ukraine, pro-Russian separatists have taken control of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of the country. The takeover has resulted in an escalating frequency of attacks being made against Christians residing within these areas, including the recent seizure of an evangelical church in Donetsk.

  • Young Mission Workers Murdered

    A broadcast tower in Slavyansk was completely destroyed.
    Photo: FEBC

    Four young Christian workers were recently captured by pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine and brutally beaten to death. According to a ministry affiliate, they were killed simply for being Christians. "These young men were faithful Christians who cared about evangelizing their countrymen by using personal witnessing, as well as media," he reported. "We are deeply saddened and shocked."

  • Church bombed


    Photos from Pastor Zschech's blog
    In the early morning of October 14, a crude homemade bomb was thrown into the Calvary Chapel church building in Kaharlyk, Ukraine. The building is also the residence of Pastor Wayne Zschech and his family. At approximately 7:00 a.m., Pastor Zschech's wife awoke to the smell of smoke. Fire officials were called to the scene where they put out the blaze, which caused minor damage to the building. The six people asleep in the church at the time of the attack escaped without injury. The assailants spray painted "Out with Sects" and "OYH," an abbreviated name for a Ukrainian Nationalist movement, on the church wall.

    Pastor Zschech later stated, "We pray that the Lord would call people to salvation and that He would build up His body. We rejoice in being chosen worthy to suffer for the sake of our Lord and His Gospel. We do also pray for safety but hold this prayer out with open hands."

    Thank God that no one was hurt in this attack. Pray that the perpetrators of this attack will be brought to justice and come to faith in Christ.

  • VOM Canada Remembers the Lingering Legacy of Communism

    The 20th century was a long and painful struggle for the people of Ukraine, especially for those who refused to submit to the oppressive Soviet rule. Christians of all denominations suffered terrible persecution at the hands of the communists during the seventy years of Soviet rule in Ukraine. Church buildings were ruined, burnt down, and profaned. Priests and faithful, Orthodox, Catholics, Baptists, Pentecostals and others were shot, arrested and deported to the Siberian gulag; church communities were persecuted, confined to underground activities or entirely destroyed. Many died in exile. Despite the threat of imprisonment and fines, bishops continued to ordain new priests and pastors who faithfully served underground congregations. In some cases, they literally worshipped in catacombs beneath the earth! Even the activities of the Russian Orthodox Church (which functioned as a state church) were limited and suffered from infiltration by Soviet security organs.
    Some of the Ukrainian Christians featured on VOM's new video news report onPersecutionTV

    Last December, Canadian representatives from The Voice of the Martyrs visited the Ukraine especially to visit some of those still living who have paid such a great sacrifice for their faith. One of the five purposes of our mission is to assist Christians who have been persecuted to rebuild their lives after their persecution ends. Because they were imprisoned and tortured during the communist era as enemies of the state, many of our brothers and sisters in Ukraine and other former communist states are ineligible for the kinds of pensions which they would have rightfully been entitled to, had they continued to live as ordinary Soviet citizens. We at The Voice of the Martyrs believe that it is our God-given obligation to help provide these courageous men and women with at least with a semblance of dignity and normality of life in their latter years. The $31 per month that The Voice of the Martyrs supplies to these courageous men and women through our Families of Martyrs Fund allows them to buy food and medicine that they otherwise could not afford. For the past year, VOM has been supporting fourteen such pensioners in western Ukraine and plan to expand this ministry in the coming year.

    The Voice of the Martyrs has just released a brand new nine-minute video report of this trip, containing the personal testimonies of three of these courageous men and women who sacrificed so much for their faith. Witness for yourself how God sustained them in their afflictions and learn how Christians in Canada are continuing to stand with them. Log on to VOM multimedia website www.vomcanada.com and check out our Video section.

    A full report of this trip will also be the focus of the feature article of the March edition of The Voice of the Martyrs Newsletter entitled "Communism's Lingering Legacy." Don't miss your free copy. Subscribe here today.