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To serve the Church among the Slavic nations of the world by assisting it to become fully equipped to fulfil the great commission of Jesus Christ

Facing Opposition

Bible Chain

Aidana is a widow but her husband is still alive! How can that be? Her story is typical of a number of young women in Central Asia who have been converted to Christ from a Muslim background. They become social, cultural, and family outcasts.

The last is the most painful – abandoned by their husbands and disowned by their families. They are regarded as dead. It is for this reason that SGA’s friends in Central Asia, Bibel-Mission, include such ‘widows’ in the distribution of the Widows’ Project aid which is sent out by the Mission each year.

The price paid by believers in countries where there is acute opposition to the Gospel is high. The attacks come in many forms and from many directions, and Aidana’s plight represents one of the most severe - what amounts to virtual annihilation. Family pressures are one of many ways in which the devil is at work attempting to prevent men, women and young people from coming to the truth.

Opposition is evident from the very top in many of the countries in which SGA works. In Kazakhstan for example, the secular government in the predominantly Muslim country has inserted in the Constitution a principle of religious liberty, but it is ‘controlled’ liberty which requires religious groups to be ‘registered’ in order to enjoy this ‘freedom’. The tightening of religious laws to restrict the growth of militant Islam has rebounded on evangelicals, making the work of evangelism more difficult. Gospel work among young people is threatened. The government wants to confine such activities to within the church building, making activities such as camp evangelism extremely difficult and even dangerous. The situation is similar in other Central Asian Republics.

Orthodox-Church-2State interference and religious control is not confined to Muslim countries. In countries like Serbia and Bulgaria the relationship between the State and the Orthodox Church is such that to withdraw from the Orthodox Church is interpreted as betrayal of one’s national heritage. Evangelical believers are objects of suspicion and less than true citizens. The result is sometimes blatant discrimination, sometimes subtle harassment, and often suspicion and ongoing monitoring of Gospel work. For example, recent permission to erect a new church building in Kovin, near Belgrade, is the first time believers have been able to build with official planning permission. The activities of the 1st Baptist Church in Belgrade are monitored closely by a nearby resident. The state church continues to have a strong controlling influence upon local and national politics.

The strength of the grip which false religion maintains upon the population at large should never be under-estimated, especially in countries where ‘national religion’ is regarded as essential to national identity. Many believers do not appreciate the monumental nature of the change when a person in such circumstances is converted to Christ. Culture and religion are so intimately bound up that rejection of state religion is interpreted almost as an act of treachery.

How can such barriers be broken down? The key surely is prayer-saturated Gospel witness accompanied by Christ-like loving service. SGA’s partners in Eastern Europe and Central Asia are continually seeing hardened hearts and closed minds being opened to the Gospel, as God’s servants lovingly address people’s physical and material needs through such ministries as the Widows’ Project, the Hope Centres in Central Asia, Medical Ministry in Ukraine and Moldova, ministry to addicts in Romania and Serbia, and much more.

Praise God that by such means bridges are being built for the Gospel into sin-stained lives, and the Lord Jesus Christ is healing souls as well as bodies!