Welcome to , 14 Jul 2012
Fortnightly Report on Christianity in Former Soviet Bloc Countries,
by Dr. Robert D. Hosken
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FIRST, THE NEWS:

HEADS OF UKRAINIAN DENOMINATIONS CALL ON PRESIDENT NOT TO SIGN LANGUAGE BILL
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine

Select to see full-size! (5 Jul) In an open letter to Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych, Heads of Ukrainian Churches and religious organizations called the adoption of the scandalous law on the language a path to the precipice, to civil conflict and disintegration of the state. "We have to note with regret that our voice was not heard. On 3 July, the contradictory language bill was declared passed by the Supreme Council of Ukraine," reads the letter.

"The people who consider this event a victory are seriously mistaken. It is a Pyrrhic Victory. It is a 'victory' over civil understanding and basic principles of parliamentarianism which are by definition to reflect social compromise," stressed the heads of Churches and religious organizations. In their opinion, "the deepening of the language division combined with the political confrontation is further deepening the social divide and shaking the foundations of the Ukrainian statehood." The religious leaders earnestly called Ukraine's President "not to sign the explosive language bill #9073, veto it and return it to the Supreme Council for a real, full-value consideration and development of a balanced decision." [read more...]


CHINA: CHANGING CLIMATE FOR RELIGIOUS NGOS?
by Magda Hornemann, Forum 18 News Service

(12 Jul) Religious non-governmental organisations (RNGOs), both local and international, exist in China - but those that are legally registered as non-profit organisations are often linked to either the representative bodies of the five state-approved religions or other state organisations. Both the legally allowed and other RNGOs have mainly devoted their efforts and resources to supporting the neediest people in China, especially migrant workers and their families, orphans and victims of natural disasters, Forum 18 News Service notes.

Most of China's existing religious NGOs have been able to carry out the activities they have been set up to do. Yet the state does not allow them to conduct religious activities, such as overt sharing of beliefs. Activities that can be described as political - such as lobbying to change laws - are also not allowed. Many secular and religious NGOs involved in development work worldwide often see encouraging legislative change as a mainstream part of their work. [read more...]


25 RUSSIAN PILGRIMS INJURED IN ROAD ACCIDENT IN UKRAINE
from Interfax-Religion

(09 Jul) 25 pilgrims who were injured in a road accident near Chernihiv, Ukraine, have been taken to hospitals in Moscow and Pskov, the Health Ministry press service reports. "On Saturday night 14 victims of the road accident in Chernihiv were flown by a plane of the Emergency Situations Ministry to Moscow where they were received by teams of the center of disaster medicine of the Health Ministry," a newsletter received by Interfax says.

They were taken to leading federal medical institutions, it says. "All of them were offered to be hospitalized at the regional hospital. As a result four were taken to the department of neurosurgery, four - to the trauma section, and three - to thoracic surgery. At the time of hospitalization all of them were in condition of medium gravity," the newsletter says. [read more...]


KYRGYZSTAN: LOCAL KENESHES WITHHOLD PERMISSION FOR MISSIONARIES' VISAS
by Mushfig Bayram, Forum 18 News Service

(06 Jul) On 10 July a court case was due to begin at Bishkek Interdistrict Court in a suit brought by Bishkek's Grace Presbyterian Church, Botoyev and Chynasyl Chynybayev, Head of the Legal Department of Bishkek City Kenesh (council), told Forum 18 separately. The Church is bringing the suit because it is unable to get missionary visas for those it wishes to invite, since Bishkek City Kenesh has not confirmed their list of founders.

Shumilin of the Alliance of Evangelical Churches said that he does not believe that regulations for the local Keneshes exist. He said that at a regular meeting in early July of the Alliance - which has roughly 300 Protestant member Churches - several Churches complained that they cannot obtain or extend visas for their missionaries because the Keneshes in Bishkek and in the regions have told them that they cannot endorse their lists of the founders necessary for obtaining the visas.

Chynybayev of the Legal Department of Bishkek City Kenesh told Forum 18 on 6 July that "no regulations exist until this day, and there are no mechanisms for how the local Keneshes can endorse lists of founders." He said that it is not clear whether the Chair of the Kenesh should do it, or the deputies should endorse by voting, and whether it should be written or oral. He said that if such regulations exist, that will become clear in court proceedings in the suit brought by Grace Presbyterian Church. [read more...]


UAOC MAY BE PROHIBITED FROM SERVING DAILY LITURGIES IN ST. ANDREW'S CHURCH
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine

(13 July) The Supervisory Council of the National Reserve Sophia of Kyiv proposed to prohibit the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church to conduct daily services in the Church of St. Andrew which is part of the compound. So reported Kommersant with reference to the Head of the Supervisory Council, Academician, Petro Tolochko.

According to him, the smoke from the candles used during the services ruins the unique icons and frescoes and the issue of the preservation of the monument should be settled "at the state level. It should be a museum complex and not a church. Religious people should be allowed to be there only on great feasts, such as Easter, for instance," said Tolochko. Representatives of UAOC consider these actions attempts to deprive them of their church. [read more...]


OTHER NEWS HEADLINES:

WILL NEW LANGUAGE LEGISLATION DESTROY UKRAINE?
from Russian Evangelical Alliance

RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH ANNOUNCES CAMPAIGN FOR AID TO FLOOD VICTIMS IN KRASNODAR REGION
from Russian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate

PUTIN AGAINST RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS BEING OFFICIALLY LABELED AS "FOREIGN AGENTS"
from Interfax-Religion

OLD CHURCH DESTROYED BY LIGHTNING AND FIRE IN LVIV REGION
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine

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


NOW, OUR VIEWS:

This weekend Orthodox churches around the world commemorate St. Vladimir, the Baptizer of Russia. Our first news article, telling how Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant Christians voiced their opposition to Ukrainian legislation that would make Russian an official language in Ukraine, highlights the thousand-year-old struggle between Kiev and Moscow: in AD 988 Prince Vladimir of Kiev accepted Christianity and had his people baptized. The "Baptism of Rus" in 988 marked the beginning of Christianity in what the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) calls "Holy Rus" ...but Moscow, Russia hardly existed in 988! At most, it was a small village on the banks of a winding river, because the first historical records of a town there only go back to about AD 1150. Monks and priests from Kiev later brought Orthodox Christianity to Moscow. With the twists and turns of history, however, the princes of Moscow grew more powerful and conquered the princes of Kiev, also moving the seat of the Orthodox Metropolitanate to Moscow.

At various times in history Kiev broke free from Moscow, but was reconquered again and again. After the communist revolution in 1917 Ukraine was independent for a few years but then was absorbed into the USSR. During World War II the Ukrainian partisan fighters struggled to free their motherland from Moscow, even allying with the Nazis to some extent. And with the collapse of the USSR in 1991 Ukraine again became independent. But with large numbers of Russians living in eastern Ukraine and a huge Russian naval base in the Crimea, it is almost impossible for Ukraine to be completely free from Russia. They are bound together geographically and economically, just like the United States, Canada and Mexico. And they are also closely related in religion and language, yet have a hard time living together.

This explains the struggle for an autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church that uses the Ukrainian language in the liturgy. It also explains why Patriarch Kirill frequently visits Ukraine and supports the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) there. As the first article in our "OTHER NEWS HEADLINES" section explains, many Ukrainians in the eastern part of the country speak Russian as their first language, and nearly all Ukrainians know Russian. In fact, the Russian language is the only common language for Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and the five Central Asian "stan" countries of the former USSR. So religion and/or language bind this whole area together.

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Liberty, Equality and Fraternity?

This weekend marks the day when I committed my life to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior on July 14, 1957. But July 14 also marks the anniversary of "The Storming of the Bastille" in Paris in 1789, considered to be the start of the French Revolution. The "third estate," i.e., the common people who were the vast majority, rose up against the "first estate" (clergy) and the "second estate" (nobility) to overthrow the French emperor, dis-establish the Roman Catholic Church, and install a secular government. We must also remember that the French revolutionaries drew their inspiration from and supported the American Revolution of 1776.

The motto of the French Revolution, "Liberty, Equality and Fraternity," borrowed these words from Christianity, but infused them with different, secularized meaning. Instead of "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (2 Cor. 3:17), we've been taught to think that Christianity opposes liberty, which is taken to mean you can do whatever you want and technology or modern medicine will take care of the consequences. Instead of equality meaning "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:28), we've been taught to think that Christianity opposes equality, which is taken to mean everything is relative and there is no right or wrong, no good or evil. Instead of fraternity (brotherhood) meaning "whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and closes his heart of compassion against him, how does the love of God remain in him?" (1 John 3:17), we've been taught to think that Christianity opposes fraternity, which is taken to mean drunken orgies and sex parties.

This infusion of new, secularized meaning into old and respected words should cause us to question the fundamental assumptions of the modern world. We've been taught to think that the will of the majority is right, but we fail to comprehend that half of the people are below median intelligence and will vote for whatever lies they are promised: "You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time," said P. T. Barnum. So it doesn't really matter that you can't fool all of the people all of the time, if all you need is a majority vote in order to change society. The fact of the matter is that the majority is often wrong. Yes, people have a right to their own opinions, but that doesn't make wrong right! There is right and wrong, good and evil; there are moral absolutes.

It is time for traditional Christians of all confessions to not "roll over and play dead" when attacked by these false notions embedded in modernism and secularism, but to work together to re-establish Christian communities where genuine "Liberty, Equality and Fraternity" are practiced. How can this be accomplished? By setting as first priority genuine love for the Lord our God, and love for our neighbor as ourselves, rather than ignoring our brother in need so that we can keep our hands clean and our doctrinal ducks lined up just right. So stay tuned: in following issues of "Hosken-News" I will describe how we can accomplish this, by seeking out the true meanings of Christian terminology, which will help us put them into practice.


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Prayer and Praise:

Sun. - Pray for peace in Ukraine, as society and even Christians are divided over the issue of the official state language(s).
Mon. - Thank the Lord that religious NGOs can function in China and Russia, although with limitations and under suspicion.
Tue. - Ask the Lord to heal those 14 Russian Orthodox pilgrims who were injured in a bus accident in Ukraine.
Wed. - Pray that the murky situation in Kyrgyzstan about missionary visas will be resolved so they will be able to serve there.
Thu. - Ask that believers at the Church of St. Andrew in the Sophia of Kyiv compound can continue celebrating daily liturgy.
Fri. - Pray for the thousands of flood victims in Krymsk, Krasnodar region of Russia, whose homes were ruined by the flood.
Sat. - Ask God that we will re-establish the true meaning of "Liberty, Equality and Fraternity," not the secularized meaning.


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. He who thinks he can fully comprehend God either has a very small god, or a very large head.


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