By BosNewsLife News Center in Budapest
MOSCOW/BUDAPEST (BosNewsLife)-- Christian missionaries have expressed concerns about the situation of Protestant Christians in Russia after attacks on a Baptist and Pentecostal church outside Moscow, apparently by members of a group supporting President Vladimir Putin, BosNewsLife established Tuesday, January 8.
Russian Ministries, a major missionary organization in Russia, told BosNewsLife that suspected members and allies of the Nashi movement vandalized the two churches on December 27 in the city of Kaluga, some 188 kilometers (117 miles) southwest of Moscow. There were no reports of injuries.
Vladislav Yudanov, pastor of the local evangelical Pentecostal church reportedly said that the troubles began when a teenagers entered the church in the evening. After they were asked to leave, bottles containing threatening messages apparently crashed through the windows or landed on the roof.
"The next morning it became evident that this was nothing short of a political action with extremist flavor," Pastor Yudanov said in published remarks. Church officials said the church had been attacked before, although "this was the first time the bottles contained [written] threats."
The attacked Baptist and Pentecostal churches received identical threats saying "Disrespected sectarians, you are not welcome here and we suggest that you get out of our town. If you refuse, we'll help you leave," Russian Ministries reported.
"We are insulted and humiliated by your attitude towards the Orthodox faith. The Cross should not serve as a garland or billboard for your false religion. Get out of here you wretched American servants of Satan! Go pray to money --your imperialistic god. This will be done to everyone like you," the letters in the bottles apparently said.
On the second floor of Grace Church, one bottle contained the simple message "Merry Christmas!" and was signed, "Civil Initiative of the 'Nashi.'"
The Nashi youth movement is seen as a strong nationalistic and anti-Western movement which supports Russian President Putin, who has close ties to the main Russian Orthodox Church. "The Kremlin also encourages the Nashi movement, which is reminiscent of the youth leagues during communism," Russian Ministries said.
The group said it was concerned about the attacks against the churches in Kaluga where it is involved in the 'School Without Walls' program providing training to Christian leaders and organizes an evangelistic summer camp.
In a letter to supporters, the group urged prayers for the churches and "the next generation of Christian leaders" as well as for th protection for evangelical activities, including showing the film "Jesus" about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (BosNewsLife MISSION WATCH covers the plight of Christian missionaries working in difficult circumstances around the world).
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