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True Freedom of the Heart by Sergey Sazhienko

29 September 2016 No Comment

 

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 Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus!

 My name is Pastor Sergei Sazhieyenko and I live in the city of Suoyarvi in the region of Karelia. I thank God for the opportunity to write and thank you for your support for our Russian churches and ministers. Your faithfulness to minister the Gospel in Russia for more than 25 years has served our people well.

 I became a Christian in 1992 soon after the communist regime fell and freedom of religion was afforded to Russians after 70 years of atheistic rule. The gospel was openly proclaimed and revival broke out. It was a wonderful time because people were so hungry for God and movements of the Holy Spirit. And, although my city was hundreds of miles away from Saint Petersburg, God put a strong desire within me to attend church meetings in Saint Petersburg. Looking back, I realize that my wife and I traveled thousands of miles just to be at church gatherings a couple of times per month.

 Shortly thereafter, we enrolled in a Bible school in Saint Petersburg and eventually planted a new church in 1994. The following year I met the national director of Russians Reaching Russians (RRR), Sergei Morozov. Sergei shared the vision of this ministry and God spoke to my heart about joining forces with RRR. So, I joined RRR and my young church became a partner of the ministry. That was twenty two years ago and my church has been richly blessed to be a part of this ministry.

Most of people in my age group grew up in atheism because it was the official doctrine of the USSR. We were fascinated with Christians from the United States because it was a very different kind of people. Most grew up in Christian families and their culture was permeated with Christian values. When American Christians would visit our churches, it was a great encouragement and a great testimony of the unity of Christians globally. We truly experienced the love of God through them and we realized that the same Holy Spirit they had dwells in us even though we spoke different languages. Russians Reaching Russians is one of the most fruitful ministries that I came across. Each team US team that brought training did so in timely and relevant ways, and I always appreciated the great balance between training and family-like times of Fellowship.

Recently, the Russian government passed new laws further restricting religious freedoms. Almost every week I hear of new arrests and harassment inflicted on churches and Christians by government officials. They go so far as to interrupt church services to scare our brothers and sisters. This new law is quite vague yet so controlling and punitive that it gives ground to virtually any government official to harass and persecute churches.

The following activities can draw negative attention and persecution: Public baptisms, home-group meetings, public prayer, preaching the gospel in public places, inviting foreigners, teaching  children, distributing Bibles and Christian literature, inviting non-Christian people to meetings, and outdoor outreaches. In fact, within the first month of the passage of the new law, there were hundreds of arrests made and fines given. Despite this, we continue to trust God. We live in a freedom that dwells in our hearts and minds. We walk in fellowship, encourage and pray for one another, and we declare the authority of God over Russia. I encourage you, in this difficult time, to continue to pray for us as we seek to remain faithful to God.

Pastor Sergei Sazhiyenko.

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