by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – A Ukrainian Baptist pastor and his wife are still missing after being kidnapped in Russian-occupied Mariupol on September 21 by armed men wearing Russian army uniforms, Church Leaders (CL) reports.
Members of the Council of Churches Baptists, Pastor Leonid Ponomaryov, and his wife Tatyana were abducted from their home in the Kalmiusky District of northern Mariupol, CL reports.
Local Mariupol Baptists told the Forum 18 news outlet that in addition to searching the Ponomaryovs’ home, Russian soldiers had also searched their church, known as Kurchatov Street Baptist Church. The soldiers removed religious literature from the church building before sealing it shut, CL reports.
Russian officials reportedly claimed the couple was involved in “extremist activities.”
“The neighbors distinctly heard groans and cries” as the Ponomaryovs were taken “in an unknown direction,” Mariupol Baptists told Forum 18. Church members tried to find out what had happened to the couple but were unable to find answers.
In an October 1 statement quoted by Forum 18, the couple’s children thanked the Baptist community for their prayers and help. “For ten days already, we know nothing about them. A group of church members from Mariupol and Rostov went (around) all the agencies and institutions, not only in Mariupol but in the regional center [Donetsk], and were told nothing about our parents anywhere.”