by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
The three largest Protestant churches in the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol, in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast region of southeastern Ukraine, have now been closed by President Putin’s troops, CT reports. Grace Baptist Church was raided and shut down on September 11, 2022. Melitopol Christian Church was closed a month earlier.
A third church was shut on September 21, 2022, in the village of Chkalovo close to Melitopol during the evening soldier, CT reports. One of the soldiers driving the Christians out of the church is reported to have told them: “Your feet will not be here… We have only one faith, Orthodoxy.”
In a statement about the difficult situation, Release International CEO Paul Robinson said it was not surprising to hear Russian soldiers were coming against Ukrainian Christians.
“They’ve been doing the same since they seized and illegally annexed Crimea in 2014. This has set the pattern for what has followed … they have raided places of worship, closed churches, banned missionary activity, fined people for leading worship meetings, seized religious literature and forced religious communities to re-register with the state, refusing re-registration to the vast majority,” he said.
“And now we are seeing churches raided, sealed, and shut down, and the disappearance and detention of pastors in the occupied areas.
Ukrainian Christians have been here before,” Robinson added. “Yet the message of history should be clear to Russia: the Christian faith has survived 70 years of Soviet totalitarian rule, and it thrives today in China under similar conditions. Persecution can only strengthen the church.”