Welcome to , 18 Feb 2012
Fortnightly Report on Christianity in Former Soviet Bloc Countries,
by Dr. Robert D. Hosken
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FIRST, THE NEWS:
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RUSSIAN CHURCH: PILLAR OF HOLY SUPPORT FOR PUTIN
from Daily Star

Select to see full-size! (17 Feb) The protests sweeping Russia have failed to shake the Russian Orthodox Church's support for former KGB agent Vladimir Putin, which regards him as the guarantor of the country's stability. Orthodox Patriarch Kirill has made no secret of who he would like to win the March 4 presidential polls, a vote of support that is hugely important given the Orthodox Church's growing influence since the fall of the Soviet Union.

"You have played an enormous personal role to set the course of history in our country. I would like to thank you," Kirill told Putin earlier this month at a meeting along with other religious leaders. Russia managed to overcome the chaos of the 1990s that followed the break-up of the USSR "thanks to a divine miracle and with the active assistance of the leaders of our country," Kirill said. Not entirely shrugging away the protests, Kirill said in January the rallies should lead to an "adjustment of the political course" and it would be a "very bad sign" if the authorities ignored them. [read more...]


KAZAKHSTAN: FIRST KNOWN USE OF HARSH NEW PUNISHMENTS
by Felix Corley, Forum 18 News Service

(14 Feb) In Kazakhstan's first known use of expanded and increased punishments for exercising freedom of religion or belief, a Baptist in eastern Kazakhstan has been fined what local people estimate to be a year and a half's average local wages for leading an unregistered religious organisation. Shoe-repairer and father of ten Aleksei Asetov was fined 485,400 Tenge (2,486 Euros or 3,273 US Dollars), for leading the small congregation that meets in his home, under a provision introduced in new Amending and Religion Laws local Baptists told Forum 18 News Service. The judge also banned the congregation.

Elsewhere, a Pentecostal church in Petropavl in North Kazakhstan has twice been raided by the police Department for the Fight against Extremism, Separatism and Terrorism and a local official of the Agency of Religious Affairs (ARA). They confiscated New Testaments, other books, and DVDs for censorship, and want the Church punished for leaving the books on a table about ten metres (10 yards) from the entrance to a hall they rent for worship. Other fines for exercising religious freedom without state permission continue, one Baptist having been fined for unregistered worship meetings following a police operation called "Operation Legal Order". [read more...]


RUSSIAN CHURCH FUNDRAISES FOR ORTHODOX BELIEVERS IN KOSOVO
from Interfax-Religion

(15 Feb) Monasteries of the Russian Church starts fundraising for the Raska-Prizren Diocese of the Serbian Patrairchate and Orthodox people in Kosovo and Metochija. Collected funds will be donated to renovate seminary building in Kosovo, support its lecturers and students and maintain and extend the so-called people's canteens - stations of hot meals for residents of the district who need it organized by the Raska-Prizren Diocese, the Synodal Department for External Church Relations reports on its website.

Earlier, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia in his interview with the Vechernje Novostthe Serbian paper said that the Moscow Patriarchate outlined concrete measures to support Kosovo monasteries. "I approved of the program that will be carried out in 2012," he said. According to the Primate, it is very important not to let holy monasteries in Kosovo deteriorate. [read more...]


TURKMENISTAN: IS PUBLISHING RELIGIOUS POETRY A CRIME?
by Felix Corley, Forum 18 News Service

(8 Feb) After Protestant Begjan Shirmedov tried to print copies of a small book of his religious poetry, a local religious affairs official waiting for him at the printing shop took him to the Police 6th Department, responsible for counter-terrorism and organised crime work. There the 77-year-old poet was questioned for six hours, forced to write a statement and banned from travelling outside his home region of Dashoguz in northern Turkmenistan while his case is investigated, Protestants told Forum 18.

Shirmedov, a member of a Protestant church in Dashoguz which has long been seeking state registration in vain, has been writing Christian poetry in Turkmen for some years, Protestants told Forum 18. Wanting to have some of them printed so that he could give copies away, he went to a local printing shop. Knowing the authorities' sensitivity over religious literature, he told the printing shop staff that the poetry was religious and asked if this would be a problem. They insisted it would not. When Shirmedov returned to the printing shop on 3 February hoping to collect copies, an official of the Regional Gengesh, Hudainazar (last name unknown), was waiting for him. The official took Shirmedov to the Police's 6th Department, which is notionally responsible for counter-terrorism and organised crime work. There officers questioned Shirmedov for six hours and forced him to write a statement. [read more...]


HEAD OF UAOC COMPLAINS ABOUT LACK OF UNITY IN HIS CHURCH
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine

(17 Feb) Metropolitan Mefodii (Kudriakov), the head of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC), complained that there is no unity in his church and that the bishops not always follow his instructions and advice. In an interview to the website Autocephaly, the metropolitan called these bishops "pocket Primates" of a regional level. The head of the UAOC complained the most about Metropolitan Andrii (Abramchuk) of Halych and Ivano-Frankivsk.

The lack of unity between the bishops and the Primate could be felt during the last negotiations between the UAOC and the Ukrainian Orthodox Chuch-Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC-KP). According to Metropolitan Mefodii, the UAOC was represented in the special committee on negotiation between the UAOC and the UOC-KP by Metropolitan Andrii (Abramchuk). However, in the opinion of the Primate, the metropolitan messed the job up. [read more...]


OTHER NEWS HEADLINES:

KILO OF GOLD FOUND IN CHARITY BOX IN BELARUS
from Voice of Russia

PATRIARCH KIRILL'S SPIRITUAL FATHER PREDICTS GULAG REPETITION IN CASE POWER IS CHANGED IN RUSSIA
from Interfax-Religion

EVANGELIST SAMMY TIPPIT CALLS ON CHRISTIANS TO PRAY FOR ROMANIA
from Mission Network News

PRIESTS OF UOC-MP ACCUSED OF DISHONEST GATHERING OF SIGNATURES IN SUPPORT OF PRIVATIZATION OF POCHAYIV MONASTERY
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine

PROSECUTOR FORBIDS BAPTISTS TO BE GUIDED BY SACRED SCRIPTURE
from Slavic Legal Center

METROPOLITAN HILARION: LIFE IS GRANTED TO HUMAN BEINGS SO THAT THEY MEET WITH GOD
from Russian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate

RELIGIOUS FREEDOMS UNDER FIRE AS ANTI-PUTIN PROTESTS GROW
from Russian Ministries

BAPTIST CHURCH RAIDED IN UZBEKISTAN
from Worthy News

See HOSKEN-NEWS Daily for more of the latest news!


NOW, OUR VIEWS:

In our last issue, and now in this issue again we see that government authorities are lumping Christians together with terrorists and extremists: a Pentecostal church in Kazakhstan was raided by the "Department for the Fight against Extremism, Separatism and Terrorism." Increasingly, this tactic is being used: placing the label of "terrorist" or "extremist" on Christians. When this occurs repeatedly over a long period of time, other people will begin to believe that Christians are terrorists and extremists. That is the power of propaganda: repeat the same thing over and over and over again, and people will believe it.

Consumption, Conservation, or Communion?

(To let us know what you think, please use the online feedback form!)

We live in an age of extremes: the rich (including most people in America and Western Europe, even those who consider themselves poor) consume far more of the world's resources than the rest of the world. Two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. People are bombarded with mass advertising that repeatedly tell them to buy-Buy-BUY the latest clothing style, electronic gadget, car, or furniture. As a result, our closets, basements and garages overflow with stuff we rarely use, and we spend much of our time cleaning, stacking or rearranging our stuff. Jesus said: "So be careful, or your hearts will be loaded down with carousing [gluttony], drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that day will come on you suddenly" (Luke 21:34).

The opposite of consumption is a lifestyle of conservation. In moderation, conservation is a good thing: recycling our newspapers, tin cans, glass and plastic bottles, not wasting electricity or hot water. But just as there are extremes of consumption, there are also extremes of conservation: those who think that mankind is devastating the earth and therefore humanity ought to be eliminated. (They never stop to think that if they sincerely believe mankind should be eliminated, they should volunteer to go first!) This nihilistic worldview often causes people to take radical actions such as eliminating others they think are "inferior." Hitler's Nazi Germany was a direct descendant of Friedrich Nietsche's philosophy of nihilism.

But neither consumption nor conservation, even when practiced in moderation, is sufficient to give meaning to life. We are created for communion, for sharing and fellowship with God and with one another: "That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us. Yes, and our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son, Jesus Christ. ...If we say that we have fellowship with Him and walk in the darkness, we lie, and don't tell the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:3, 6-7). The Greek word is koinonia, which is the same word that is used for partaking of the body and blood of Christ in holy communion. And it is the same root as in 2 Peter 1:4 - "He has granted to us His precious and exceedingly great promises; that through these you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world by lust."

If A = B, then B = A; or at least, that's what rules of logic teach us. So, some think thusly: "If it is true that a person can believe whatever he wants, then whatever a person believes is true." This, however, is a logical fallacy, the same as saying: "If a cat is an animal, then all animals are cats." You see, "animals" make up a large category, but "cats" are only a small sub-category of animals. In the same way, "whatever people believe" is a large category, and "truth" is only a small sub-category of all possible beliefs. And yet, many people have fallen into this fallacy: they think they can espouse whatever political, moral or lifestyle positions they choose. But at the same time, they are offended if someone else expresses a viewpoint that is opposed to their relativistic views. Apparently they think that you can believe anything in general, but not something in particular - especially if you claim it is eternal truth!

But what do you get if you believe all the right facts about God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, but you don't do the acts of love, mercy and holy living? Facts - acts = F. That's right, you get an F.

For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man beholding his natural face in a mirror; for he sees himself, and goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law, the law of freedom, and continues, not being a hearer who forgets but a doer of the word, this man will be blessed in what he does. If anyone among you thinks himself to be religious while he doesn't bridle his tongue, but deceives his heart, this man's religion is worthless. Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained by the world (James 1:23-27).

(To let us know what you think, please use the online feedback form!)


Prayer and Praise:

Sun. - Pray for fairness and justice in the upcoming Russian elections, and that Christians will not be discriminated against.
Mon. - Uphold Pastor Aleksei Asetov in Kazakhstan who was fined 1.5 year's average income for leading an unregistered church.
Tue. - Thank the Lord that Christian monasteries and seminaries in Kosovo are being supported by Christians in Russia.
Wed. - Pray for 77-year-old poet Begjan Shirmedov who was questioned for 6 hours because he published a book of Christian poems.
Thu. - Ask the Lord to bring about unity within and among the various Orthodox jurisdictions in the Ukraine.
Fri. - Pray for the soul of the prosecutor who in court forbids Baptists to be guided by sacred Scripture.
Sat. - Ask God to move Christians not to live only for consumption or conservation, but for communion with Him and one another.


Select to see full-size!   Please remember to pray for Christians in the former Soviet bloc countries, and for...

  Your fellow-servants,

  Bob & Cheryl

p.s. Taking a middle of the road position is dangerous. You can get knocked down by the traffic from both ways.


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FEEDBACK:


from Bill, 2/19/2012 7:37am:
Your consumption, conservation, communion message was right on! Thanks.


Hi Bill,
Thanks for your email, and please forgive my late reply: I'm working at 3 jobs now, including my online teaching and webmaster work. To solve this problem of my delay posting people's replies, you may have noticed a new online comment form that lets people post comments immediately. Try it next time!
In Christ, Bob


from Bryan, 2/19/2012 9:38am:
Beautifully written! I especially liked the reference to logic and relativism. When will people finally get it? Why is truth so despised by so many? Why is objective thinking so repulsive to so many educated Americans? I wonder if you have read "The Harbinger" by Jonathan Cahn? I am 3/4 finished with the book and find it quite fascinating. Would love input from other believers who have a sense of the bigger picture. Bryan


Hi Bryan,
Thanks for your email, and please forgive my late reply: I'm working at 3 jobs now, including my online teaching and webmaster work. To solve this problem of my delay posting people's replies, you may have noticed a new online comment form that lets people post comments immediately. Try it next time!
In Christ, Bob


from Charles, 2/19/2012 6:02pm:
Dear Bob & Cheryl, "Amen" to your recent article, "Consumption, Conservation, or Communion?" I feel that the Chinese culture has lost much of its communion that used to be present with their concept of multiple generations and extended families living together. This has begun to cause problems such as homelessness, nursing homes, a need for double income families, absent parents, personal home care, etc. If we could go back to multiple generations and multiple families living together (rather than need for independence or privacy), many of these problems would go away. The early Christians had it right in Acts! In Christ, --Charles


Hi Charles,
Thanks for your email, and please forgive my late reply: I'm working at 3 jobs now, including my online teaching and webmaster work. To solve this problem of my delay posting people's replies, you may have noticed a new online comment form that lets people post comments immediately. Try it next time!
In Christ, Bob