USCIRF Condemns Enactment of Anti-Terrorism Laws in RUSSIA

August 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Featured, News

coa_russian_empire1WASHINGTON, D.C. – Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 7 signed into law a package of anti-terrorism measures the Russian State Duma passed in late June.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) strongly condemns these measures.  Under the guise of confronting terrorism, they would grant authorities sweeping powers to curtail civil liberties, including setting broad restrictions on religious practices that would make it very difficult for religious groups to operate. On June 23, President Putin signed into law yet another problematic measure: It authorizes the police to arrest people suspected of violating “generally accepted norms of social behavior,” thereby giving authorities another weapon to use against disfavored groups, including religious organizations.

“These deeply flawed anti-terrorism measures will buttress the Russian government’s war against human rights and religious freedom,” said USCIRF Chair Thomas J. Reese, S.J. “They will make it easier for Russian authorities to repress religious communities, stifle peaceful dissent, and detain and imprison people. Neither these measures nor the currently existing anti-extremism law meet international human rights and religious freedom standards.”

The anti-terrorism measures would, among other provisions, amend the 1997 Russian religion law by redefining “missionary activities” as religious practices that take place outside of state-sanctioned sites. The new law thus would ban preaching, praying, proselytizing, and disseminating religious materials outside of these officially-designated sites, and authorize fines of up to $15,000 for these activities conducted in private residences or distributed through mass print, broadcast or online media.  Foreign missionaries also must prove they were invited by state-registered religious groups and must operate only in regions where their sponsoring organizations are registered; those found in violation face deportation and major fines.

The Russian government uses its current anti-extremism law to target religious communities because the legal definition of extremism does not require the threat or use of violence.  “Extremism” charges can include the peaceful promotion of “the superiority of one’s own religion,” and have resulted in religious texts being banned and members of non-violent Muslims groups and Jehovah’s Witnesses imprisoned.  The proposed anti-terrorism measures would increase prison terms under the current extremism law.

USCIRF placed Russia on its Tier 2 list in its 2016 Annual Report. In Tier 2 countries, the violations the government engages in or tolerates are serious and characterized by at least one of the elements of IRFA’s “systematic, ongoing, and egregious” standard. For more information, please refer to the Russia chapter in USCIRF’s 2016 Report (in English and in Russian).

Ministering to the Slavs

August 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Featured, News

Ministering to the Slavs

95 SLAVIC CHURCHES and 8 BIBLE SCHOOLS in the United States

  1. House of Bread Church (Sacramento, CA)
  2. Bethany Slavic Missionary Church (Sacramento, CA)
  3. Bethany Youth
  4. Missionary Gospel Church (Sacramento, CA)
  5. House of Prayer, Rochester NY
  6. Living Stream Church (Jacksonville, FL)
  7. Sulamita Slavic Evangelical Church (Portland, OR)
  8. Life Christian Church
  9. SGC Youth (Federal Way, WA)
  10. Light To The World, Bellevue WA
  11. Awakening Church
  12. Light of the Gospel Missionary Church, Sacramento, CA
  13. Bethany Church (Seattle WA)
  14. Paradise Youth
  15. Grace Slavic Church
  16. Slavic Christian Church of Salem
  17. Slavic Youth of Spartanburg
  18. Voice of Hope Church (Portland OR)
  19. City of Rain Church (Kent, Tacoma WA)
  20. UFGPC Youth (Tacoma WA)
  21. Slavic Full Gospel Church
  22. JC Healing House Youth
  23. Living Stream Youth (Jacksonville, FL)
  24. House of Prayer (Utica, NY)
  25. New Life Church (Atlanta, GA)
  26. Choose Life Church
  27. Upstream Youth Ministry
  28. Revelation of Jesus Christ Church
    First Slavic Pentecostal Church (Florida)
  29. Voice of Hope Youth (Tukwila WA)
  30. Slavic Pentecostal Church (Ashville, NC)
  31. Messenger of Truth Slavic Pentecostal ChurchВесник-Истины/160101984021265
  32. First Slavic Evangelical Baptist Church
  33. Christian House of Worship (Chicago, IL)
  34. Center of Life Youth (Spokane, WA)
  35. River of Life (Dallas, TX)
  36. Salvation Baptist Church (Edgewood, WA)
  37. Good News Church, Tacoma WA
  38. City Youth (Sacramento, CA)
  39. Russian Church of Texas
  40. Word of Grace Bible Church (Vancouver WA)
  41. LTTW Youth
  42. Church of Truth (Vancouver WA)
  43. Generation 4 Truth Youth (Vancouver WA)
  44. Reality Church
  45. NW House of Prayer Youth
  46. Slavic Gospel Church (Federal Way, WA)
  47. Ecclesia Church
  48. LCC Youth (Federal Way WA)
  49. Marysville Youth
  50. The Slavic Church Orange County
  51. Bread of Life Christian Church (Springfield, MO)
  52. Crosslight Youth
  53. SGC Youth (Bellingham, WA)
  54. Image Church (Lynnwood WA)
  55. New Testament Church (Seattle WA)
  56. Seattle Sulamita Youth
  57. Bethel United (Everett WA)
  58. Harvest Christian Center, Everett WA
  59. The Reign Youth Ministry
  60. Pilgrim Slavic Baptist Church
  61. Revival Christian Center
  62. Church of the Living God
  63. Christian Faith Church
  64. New Life Church, Sioux Falls
  65. Stream of Life Slavic Church, Salem OR
  66. Life of Victory Church (Renton, WA)
  67. LOV Impact Youth Ministry
  68. Russian Church of Atlanta
  69. Voice of Hope Youth (Portland, ORG)
  70. New Beginnings (Portland OR)
  71. Slavic Church Emmanuel IGNITE YOUTH
  72. Revival Youth
  73. Христианская Церковь
  74. Sulamita Youth Boise, ID
  75. SFG Youth Minsitries, INC
  76. Russian Church, NY
  77. Russian Speaking Church
  78. Russian Baptist Church of Auburn (WA)
  79. FUBC Youth
  80. Spokane Slavic Baptist Church
  81. Harvest Church (Atlanta, GA)
  82. New Life Christian Center
  83. Youth of Grace Church MN
  84. Light of the Gospel Youth
  85. New Life Christian Church (Mount Vernon, WA)
  86. Voice of Victory Christian Center
  87. New Life Youth (Mount Vernon, WA)
  88. BYM Bethesda Youth Ministries
  89. Hungry Generation
  90. Spring of Life Youth (Mukilteo, WA)
  91. Zachary Worship Center
  92. SBS Ministry
  93. Bryte Youth
  94. Christian Cultures Center
  95. First Slavic Pentecostal Church (North Port, FL)


  1. SMBS Jacksonville FL
  2. Центр Христианского Образования
  3. Teens Bible School (Jacksonville, FL)
  4. Bethany Bible School, Sacramento, CA
  5. Slavic Bible College, Tacoma WA
  6. God Will Provide Missionary Bible School, Portland OR
  7.  Slavic Theological Seminary
  8.  Light To The World Missionary Bible School, Sedalia MO

10 Years Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association

August 20, 2016 by  
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chaplaincy-in-bulgariaA decade ago we established the Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association with a vision for ministry in the Bulgarian army, Ministry of Internal Affairs, jail and prison systems, Bulgarian seaports and airports, and the healthcare system. Out of these five goals set before us in 2006 we have fulfilled them all:

1. Tolerant and equal representations of all confessions in the chaplaincy ministry
2. The implementation of a contextualized chaplaincy model
3. The integration of chaplaincy education in all Bulgarian theological higher educational institutions
4. And the educational and consultant work on government and church levels


5. The establishment of legal grounds for regular paid chaplaincy service in the Bulgarian army, Ministry of Internal Affairs, jail and prison systems, Bulgarian seaports and airports, and the healthcare system.

After designing and teaching the Masters of Chaplaincy Ministry program in two major evangelical universities in Bulgaria, we now have some of our trained chaplains working in jails, prisons, healthcare, civil emergency services and the corporate/political level. The legal system in Bulgaria, however, is yet to provide the proper measure for restoring chaplaincy in Bulgaria’s armed forces. To this final step fulfillment we pledge out support in 2016.

Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association: Vision and Resolution

Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association
Resolution No. 1


The founding members of the Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association in its first national assembly today August 19, 2006 in hotel Diana Palace, Yambol

In regard of:
1. Bulgaria’s membership in NATO and its upcoming integration in the European Union
2. The transformations within the Bulgarian Army from mandatory toward standard paid service and the participation of Bulgarian contingent in NATO and UN missions
3. Contract agreement for NATO airbases on Bulgarian territory
4. The strategic renewal of chaplaincy ministry in the Bulgarian army
5. And the present need of chaplaincy ministry integrated in the Bulgarian army, Ministry of Internal Affairs, jail and prison systems, Bulgarian seaports and airports, and the healthcare system,

Declare our support toward:
1. The establishment of legal grounds for regular paid chaplaincy service in the Bulgarian army, Ministry of Internal Affairs, jail and prison systems, Bulgarian seaports and airports, and the healthcare system
2. Tolerant and equal representations of all confessions in the chaplaincy ministry
3. The implementation of a contextualized chaplaincy model
4. The integration of chaplaincy education in all Bulgarian theological higher educational institutions
5. And the educational and consultant work on government and church levels.

We, the founding members of the Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association will work toward the renewal, popularization and equal religious representation of chaplaincy ministry in all professional areas.

August 19, 2006
Diana Palace, Yambol

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95 Years Ago Ivan Voronaev Finally Reached the City of Odessa

August 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Books, Featured, News

51Sa1IcA8OL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_[1]Not So “Little Odessa” (from the book The Life and Ministry of Rev. Ivan Voronev)

By the end of the summer of 1921, Voronaev and Koltovich received their permits to return to Russia and on August 12, 1921 landed in Odessa.[1] It had taken Voronaev over a decade of traveling around the globe to return to his motherland as a Pentecostal preacher and fulfill the divine calling: “Voronaev, Voronaev. Go to Russia!”

The results of his commitment and sacrifice increased quickly. For the first three months in Odessa, he labored among the evangelical churches, sharing his testimony and preaching the full gospel. Then, on November 21, 1921 he organized the Christian Evangelical Faith (Confession).[2] In two years time, the new community had over 370 members and the news of the new Pentecostal teaching spread rapidly across the U.S.S.R. In 1924, the Odessa community organized a regional assembly and at the second assembly in 1925, the Ukrainian Union of Evangelical Christian Faith (Confession) was established.

By 1927, more than 350 Pentecostal Assemblies with membership of 17,000 strong were part of the Union,[3] which continued to grow and by 1944 exceeded 20,000 in Ukraine and 80,000 strong in the whole U.S.S.R.[4] Voronaev’s church in Odessa alone was reported to have over 1,000 members.[5] Government persecution was inevitable. Numerous publications against Voronaev’s work were circulated not only through Communist propaganda, but by some Baptist periodicals, who characterized the Pentecostal ministry as sectarian at best.[6] The Regime could not afford the meetings of large groups of people who were not part of the Communist Party. The Voronaev family paid the ultimate price of their calling for organizing and growing the Pentecostal community in Communist Russia.

In the summer of 1930 the repressions against Russian Pentecostals began. On July 6 (almost exactly 10 years after he left America for his prophesied mission to Russia) Ivan E. Voronaev and B.R. Koltovich, along with some 800 Russian pastors,[7] were arrested for preaching the Gospel through the support of churches outside the U.S.S.R., both sufficient reasons to be convicted in espionage and imprisoned in Siberian work camps.[8] Voronaev’s wife was also sentenced to imprisonment in mid-Asia. Their children were left without provision and no one to take care of them…[9]

[1] Ibid.,8.

[2] Ibid.,9.

[3] Koltovich, “Minutes of the Jubilee Meeting”, 10 and Evangelist (Odessa: 1928, No. 1) Quoted in Durasoff, 73 and Smolchuck, 4.

[4] Zhidkov, “On the Roads …” (Bv, No. 3, 1957), 62. Around 1936 Donald Gee, who had an extensive ministry at the Assemblies of God training program for ministers at Gdanks (Danzig), Poland, claimed some 80,000 Pentecostals in Russia in Upon All Flesh (Springfield: The Gospel Publishing House, 1947), 31. Both quoted in Durasoff, The Russian Protestants. For a more detail discussion on the growth of Pentecostalism in the U.S.S.R see V.I. Franchuk, Prossila Rossia Dozhdia u Gospoda (n/a: Kiev, 2001).

[5] McLeod, Hugh. Christianity: World Christianities c. 1914-c. 2000 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 97.

[6] Durasoff, 73.

[7] McLeod, 97.

[8] Burgess, Stanley M. and Eduard M. van der Maas, The New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements (Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 2002), 1179-80.

[9] For the situation in Russia and the story of the Voronaev children see Voronaeff, Paul. Christians under the Hammer and the Sickle (Wichita: Defender Publishers, 1935). Book was printed a total of 11 times in some three years time.

Ministering in Bellshire

August 10, 2016 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, News

Ministering in Bellshire

Bulgaria to ban all foreign preachers

August 5, 2016 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, News

church-stateThe Patriotic Front, a newly established political formation in Bulgaria, filed changes to the 2002 Religious Dominations Act last Thursday. The new measure bans all foreign citizens from preaching on the territory of Bulgaria, as well as preaching in any other language than Bulgarian.

The draft amendments also foresee banning foreign organizations, companies and citizens from providing funding or donating to Bulgarian religious denominations. All the religious denominations in Bulgaria will be obliged to perform their sermons, rituals and statements only in Bulgaria. One year’s time will be given to translate religious books into Bulgarian.

Financially, the draft laws would ban not only foreign physical and legal entities from funding Bulgarian religious institutions, but also companies with foreign ownership that are legally registered in Bulgaria. Using state funding for “illegal activities” by religious denominations will be sanctioned with prison terms of three to six years. With these sanctions in mind, the new legal measure embodies the following rationale:

  1. Churches and ministers must declare all foreign currency money flow and foreign bank accounts
  2. Participation of foreign persons in the administration of any denomination is strictly forbidden
  3. Foreign parsons shall not be allowed to speak at religious meetings in any way shape or form especially religious sermons
  4. Anonymous donations and donorship to religious organization is not permitted
  5. Bulgarian flag shall be present in every temple of worship
  6. The new measure will block all foreign interference in the faith confessions and denominations in Bulgaria

An Urgent Call for Chaplain Ministry on the Balkans

August 1, 2016 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, News

bulgaria-turkey-fenceOur ministry has been working in the country of Bulgaria for over 25 years now. During this time we have ministered in over 300 local congregations across the country. While we do a lot of ministry in the capital Sofia, we are even more often on the road evangelizing in remote locations. When we minister in Bulgaria we do 3-5 services on any given Sunday. Additionally, we travel to teach and minister to various local churches during the week.

With this vision in mind, over a decade ago we organized and established the Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association as a Christian ministry outside of the church walls. Today, our first responder chaplains trained by our Masters of Chaplaincy Ministry Program face extreme conditions on the Balkans and in Europe as follows:

7/2016 – Christians pay price as extreme Islam surges after attempted coup in Turkey

6/2016 – 30+ people were killed in an attack at Ataturk International Airport by three suicide bombers

3/2016 – 31 people are killed and 150 injured in three explosions at the Brussels airport

11/2015 – 130 people killed in a series of attacks by gunmen and suicide bombers at Paris stadium

1/2015 – 11 killed after attack on Paris offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo

5/2014 – 4 killed at the Jewish Museum in Brussels

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