5. Russia’s Religion Laws

Mission Work Under Existing Russian Law
by Pastor John Smith

In July, 2016, a package of Russian laws placed broad limitations on missionary work, including preaching, teaching, and engaging in any activity designed to recruit people into a religious group. The restrictions even apply to activity in private residences and online.  Evangelical activity cannot take place anywhere besides registered churches and other approved religious sites. 

These guidelines will help us to be faithful to our calling to share the Gospel while not contradicting these laws. 

Here is what you can do on short term trips with Orphan’s Tree:

• You can respond to questions from orphanage graduates about your own faith and beliefs.

• You can give testimony about how your faith applies to your life related to whatever topic you are discussing. 

• You can offer to pray for an orphanage graduate or staff member about some issue you are discussing. 

• You can refer an orphanage graduate to a staff member if they ask about what church or faith group with which they
become involved.

Here are some things you should know or refrain from doing:

• Our Ministry Centers are not registered as churches. 

• Under the new laws our staff are permitted to have copies of the approved Orthodox Bible, but we should not carry
   our own Bibles onto the property.  

• We (Americans) should not give Bibles to orphanage graduates. Leave the sharing of Scriptures to our staff.

• Don’t use “proof texts” when speaking. As Americans we feel the need to give the specific Scripture (chapter and
  verse) when sharing, but this can be interpreted as unlawful preaching. Just state the principle you have learned    
  from Scripture.

• Refrain from commenting on any specific church or denomination. The topic of attending a specific church should be
  left to our staff.

Here is our concern: 
We don’t want to break the law. Our staff may work under restrictive conditions, but they know how to work effectively under those conditions! We don’t want to create problems for our staff after we leave.

Here is our confidence: 
Our staff has learned how to nurture the faith of our orphanage graduates in ways that are effective and legal under current Russian law. Our presence and testimony can support their work without breaking current laws, and that should be our goal. 


© John Smith 2020