Welcome to , 18 Nov 2012
Fortnightly Report on Christianity in Former Soviet Bloc Countries,
by Dr. Robert D. Hosken
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FIRST, THE NEWS:

AN ARMENIAN CHURCH OPENED IN UKRAINE'S MYKOLAIV REGION
from Public Radio of Armenia

Armenian Church (15 Nov) St. Gevorg Armenian Apostolic Church has opened in Mykolaiv region recently, having received its name from St. George the Martyr. Mykolaiv's Armenian community had waited for four years for it to happen, Ukraine's The Day weekly reports. Having said a prayer, the head of the Ukrainian Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church Grigoris Buniatian opened his oration with the following words: "I would like to address all those who put their whole soul into building this church. You all have to remember that this beautiful church will always require your material and spiritual support."

The Minister of Culture of Ukraine visited the shrine's opening ceremony and noted that it was not just a building, but a unique church, a "Little Armenia." The first all-Ukrainian census recorded 4,300 Armenians as living in Mykolaiv region, more than twice their numbers there in 1989. Chairman of the Mykolaiv Regional State Administration Mykola Kruhlov emphasized that "such a strong, close-knit community is hard to find elsewhere. These are people who are able to work, have a good time, and keep their culture and language alive. Many thanks to you all for what you do for yourselves, your families, and your community. You provide peace and stability to your community and our entire nation. I wish it would remain so forever." [read more...]


AZERBAIJAN: HOMES OF FORMER PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE RAIDED, LITERATURE CONFISCATED
by Felix Corley, Forum 18 News Service

(09 Nov) Police in Azerbaijan raided a meeting for Baptist worship in the home of former prisoner of conscience Zaur Balaev on 7 November, Forum 18 News Service has learnt. The raid in Aliabad took place as Balaev and his wife Nunuka were in Moscow, where she is undergoing cancer treatment. Police detained and questioned one Baptist, as well as seizing religious literature including New Testaments.

In a simultaneous raid on another home in the village, police seized more religious literature and questioned another former prisoner of conscience, Hamid Shabanov. Local police refused to discuss with Forum 18 why they had raided the two homes and seized literature including New Testaments. State Committee for Work with Religious Organisations spokesperson Orhan Ali claimed that if nothing illegal is found in the books, they will be returned. "This is not censorship," he insisted to Forum 18. [read more...]


PATRIARCH KIRILL POINTS OUT IMPORTANCE OF RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH PRESENCE IN HOLY LAND
from Interfax-Religion

(14 Nov) Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia believes the return of the Moscow Patriarchate to the Holy Land is a good process. "The return of Holy Rus to the Holy Land will have a positive effect and good consequences both for the spiritual life of our people and the life of Orthodox people in the Holy Land," he told reporters at the Jordan airport, summing up the results of his visit to the Holy Land.

The Patriarch said his visit played a very significant role because it involved the consecration of the Church of All Saints in Jerusalem and a visit to the Russian Pilgrim House in Jordan. "These are new important steps, which are aimed at increasing the presence of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Holy Land. When we speak about increasing its presence, we do not mean the increase of its physical presence, but we primarily believe it is important to ensure that as many our pilgrims visit the Holy Land as possible," Patriarch Kirill said. [read more...]


KAZAKHSTAN: "WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE WHETHER YOU ARE REGISTERED OR NOT?"
by Mushfig Bayram, Forum 18 News Service

(05 Nov) Kazakhstan continues to attempt to make exercising freedom of religion or belief dependent on state permission, Forum 18 News Service has found. Council of Churches Baptists face possible confiscation of their homes if they continue to meet, Pastor Dmitry Yantsen asking rhetorically, "What difference does it make whether you are registered or not?" Pastor Yantsen also noted that raids are continuing against both registreed and unregistreed communities.

Council of Churches Baptists face possible confiscation of their homes if they continue to meet, and the Agency of Religious Affairs continues to find a variety of excuses to refuse to reregister churches belonging to Grace Presbyterian Church. Indeed, the government's ARA is itself breaking the Religion Law. ARA officials have told local the media that 25 October was the deadline to receive the applications for re-registration, and that the ARA has still one month to respond to all the applications. However, the Law itself states that re-registration must be completed within one year of it coming into force. [read more...]


SECRETARIAT OF COUNCIL OF CHURCHES TO PREPARE ADDRESS TO PARLIAMENT
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine

(16 Nov) The Secretariat of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations discussed the significance and possible negative consequences of the recent adoption by the Parliament of alterations to the Law of Ukraine on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations. The meeting was held on November 15 under the chairmanship of Archbishop Grygoris Buniatian of the Ukrainian Eparchy of the Armenian Apostolic Church, reported the Institute for Religious Freedom (IRF).

The Director of the Department on Matters of Religions and Nationalities of the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine, Volodymyr Lubchyk, who was invited to the meeting, told the audience about the results of the recent session of the Committee for Ensuring Realization of Rights of Religious Organizations of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. According to him, it is still not known if Ukraine's President is going to veto the notorious Bill 10221 or sign it.

Let us remind the readers that members of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations, Council of Representatives of Christian Churches of Ukraine, human rights campaigners, public figures and scholars forwarded an open letter to President Yanukovych asking him to veto the alterations passed without discussion and contrary to promises given to the heads of the denominations. [read more...]


OTHER NEWS HEADLINES:

NEW ADVENTIST CHURCH CENTRE IN MINSK, BELARUS
from Adventistischer Pressedienst

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM "THE ONLY VIABLE OPTION FOR CONSOLIDATING RUSSIA'S EXTRAORDINARY DIVERSITY"
from Forum 18 News Service

PATRIARCH KIRILL SANCTIFIES THE WATERS AT BAPTISM SITE OF JESUS
from Interfax-Religion

STORY OF JESUS BOOKLET IS A SHOT OF ADRENALIN
from Mission Network News

PATRIARCH SVIATOSLAV: CHURCH NEEDS TREATMENT AFTER ELECTION
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine

ORTHODOX CHURCH TO OPEN ON NOVGOROD UNIVERSITY CAMPUS
from Portal-Credo.ru

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


NOW, OUR VIEWS:

The first news article in this issue describes a new building for the Armenian Apostolic Church, built for the diaspora from Armenia living in the Ukraine. Here's a brief history of this ancient Church: it claims that it was established by the Apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew in the first century. In 301 A.D. Armenia was the first first state to adopt Christianity as its official religion. Although many consider the Armenian Apostolic Church to be part of the Oriental [non-Chalcedonian] Orthodox Churches, the Wikipedia article on this subject states - "The Armenian Church adheres to the doctrine defined by Cyril of Alexandria, considered as a saint by the Chalcedonian [Eastern Orthodox] Churches as well, who described Christ as being of one incarnate nature, where both divine and human nature are united (miaphysis). To distinguish this from Eutychian and other versions of Monophysitism this position is called miaphysitism." The Eastern Orthodox Church believes that Christ has two natures, fully divine and fully human, in one Person.

You may ask, "What difference does it make? Isn't the important thing just to believe in Jesus?" The answer is that it makes a huge difference: which Jesus do you believe in? A Jesus who was not the pre-eternal Son of God, but just a good man, maybe a prophet (Arianism and Islam)? Or a Jesus who was God and just appeared to be human (Docetism)? Or a Jesus who was two persons, a human Christ and the divine Logos, that dwelt in the man (Nestorianism)? None of these heresies can save us from our sins and grant us eternal life. Just believing in Jesus' teachings - the Sermon on the Mount, the Good Samaritan, love your neighbor as yourself - can't save us. Only the real Jesus, the pre-eternal Son of God, Who became incarnate and fully partook of our human nature, physically suffered, died and rose again, can save us. Only the real Jesus could fully identify with us, redeem us from our sins, enable us to partake of His divine nature and grant us eternal life.

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Ministry as Servanthood (pais) and Bond-Service (douleuo)

[This is an excerpt from Chapter 4 of my book The Ministry Driven Church, available HERE.]

Even more closely related than latreia and leitourgia are the two Greek words pais (servanthood) and douleuo (doing bond-service), so we will examine them together here. The key verse in the New Testament that describes pais is Mat. 12:18 - "Behold, my servant (pais) whom I have chosen; my beloved in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my Spirit on him. He will proclaim justice to the nations." St. Matthew quotes this from Is. 42:1, a text identified in the Targum even before Christ's birth as Messianic, where it is rendered: "Behold my servant the Messiah...."1 So Matthew perceived Jesus the Messiah as a pais - "a boy (as often beaten with impunity), or (by analogy) a girl, and (generally) a child; specifically a slave or servant (especially a minister to a king; and by eminence to God): - child, maid (-en), (man) servant, son, young man."2 This view of a minister is one of a servant-boy, one who carries out the menial tasks of his master. Another text illustrating this kind of servant is Mat. 8:6 - "When he came into Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking him, and saying, 'Lord, my servant (pais) lies in the house paralyzed, grievously tormented.'" One of the most memorable impressions of my early missionary service was when our team leader, a man responsible for many millions of dollars annually of literature production and delivery behind the iron curtain, would take his turn on the roster to clean the toilets in our common living quarters. This is true servant leadership!

Not all first-century Jews would have understood pais in Is. 42:1 as referring to the Messiah, because Mary used the word pais in Luke 1:54 to refer to Israel: "He has given help to Israel, his servant (pais), that he might remember mercy." Elizabeth used pais in v. 69 to refer to David: "and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant (pais) David," and Peter also used pais to refer to David: "who by the mouth of your servant (pais), David, said, 'Why do the nations rage, and the peoples plot a vain thing?'" (Acts 4:25). Regardless of whom it refers to, it is plain that the term pais used in Is. 42:1 and quoted in Mat. 12:18 signifies a humble servant who ministers to his master, and it is certain that Matthew understood it to refer to the Messiah.

The other term for "servant" is doulos and its verb form douleuo. It is quite interesting that the centurion mentioned above referred to his servant in Mat. 8:6 as pais but in v. 9 he says, "For I am also a man under authority, having under myself soldiers. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and tell another, 'Come,' and he comes; and tell my servant (doulos), 'Do this,' and he does it." So here we have the two terms used as synonyms, referring to the same servant.

The word doulos means "a slave (literally or figuratively, involuntarily or voluntarily; frequently therefore in a qualified sense of subjection or subserviency): - bond (-man), servant."3 It often refers to a bondservant whose master had offered him freedom, but because he loved his master so much he voluntarily bound himself to his master for the rest of his life. This is the type of servanthood that ought to characterize the ministry of every Christian. The term doulos is used 127 times, making it one of the most common Greek words in the New Testament. We will not investigate each usage, but rather look at some of the different ways it is used.

One passage that fairly drips with the word is Mat. 18:23-35, the parable of the servant who owed 10,000 talents. Here it is used nine times including four times with the prefix "sun" meaning "fellow-servant." I use this term, sundoulos, almost always above my signature in letters, "Your fellow-servant," because it signifies that we are co-slaves of the same master. The servant in this parable is good for a bad example of the term doulos, because the point of the parable is that although he didn't forgive his fellow-servant, we all must forgive one another the debts, the petty offenses and grievances that inevitably will arise, since our common Master has forgiven each of us a million times more than those petty offenses. We are indebted to Him for our very souls, and we therefore acknowledge the fact of our bond-servanthood!

Endnotes to Chapter 4:

1. Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge, (www.e-sword.net, 2004).

2. Strong's Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries, op. cit.

3. Ibid.


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Prayer and Praise:

Sun. - Pray that the schism between the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church will be resolved soon.
Mon. - Ask the Lord that the New Testaments and other religious literature siezed in Zaur Balaev's home will be returned.
Tue. - Thank God for the Russian Orthodox Church of All Saints' consecration in Jerusalem and the Pilgrim House in Jordan.
Wed. - Pray that Pastor Dmitry Yantsen's home and those of other unregistered Baptists in Kazakhstan will not be confiscated.
Thu. - Ask God that the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches' appeal for the Ukrainian President to veto Bill 10221 will succeed.
Fri. - Praise the Lord that Jesus Christ, Who is fully divine, became incarnate, fully human, died for our sins and rose again!
Sat. - Pray that we all will experience what it means to be a pais and a doulos together with Christ and the Apostles.


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. The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of its blessings;
the inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery. -W. Churchill


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