VIRGINIA BEACH — With his life and freedom on the line as he challenged Russia’s dictatorial regime, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny reached out to Christian leaders in a search for “eternal values,” a Christian minister to the former Soviet Union told CBN News.
Sergey Rakhuba of Mission Eurasia, a ministry that supports the church in the former Soviet Rupublics, says Navalny found God as he was facing great challenges and “fighting for his life.”
Navalny proclaimed that he abandoned atheism and professed faith in God at a court hearing in January.
Rakhuba spoke to CBN News to give more detail on what Navalny shared about his faith and also gave an update on how evangelical churches are facing continued persecution across Russia.
This week the Biden administration announced sanctions on seven Russian government officials and 14 businesses in the response to the poisoning and imprisonment of opposition leader Alexy Navalny. Navalny says the Russian government poisoned him last year. In January Russian police arrested him on charges of violating probations terms from money laundering charges. He was sentenced to 3 ½ years in prison. Biden officials says the sanctions are the first of several steps planned in response to ‘de-stabilizing actions by the Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Sergey Rakhuba is president of Mission Eurasia, a ministry serving the church in Russia and other former soviet republics. Now Navalny told the court he his no longer an atheist and now believes in God, citing Matthew 5:6 – which says ‘Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness shall be filled.’ Can you tell anything more about this?
Sure George and thank you so much for the opportunity. While he was at the court I believe he pronounced or demonstrated the most powerful sermon out of that cage he was kept in in the courtroom. And he referred to Matthew 5:6 and he said those who hunger and thirst for righteousness should be filled. He said that he’s not an atheist anymore. And referring to the Bible as an ancient book that the world should adapt and build their rules for living. I think it was the most powerful presentation of the Gospel.
We started digging. We did not know that Navalny was not an atheist anymore. And when we started digging we now that in the a process he had to go through all the challenges. Fighting for his life he said that he found God. And now communicating with other communities we understand he was in contact with few. And searching for eternal values as he says. He wants to continue his fight to the end of his life he says fighting for the Russian people so that they have a chance to know the truth to know the righteousness to have a chance for a better life.
George Thomas: Sergey when repressive regimes come under pressure they often target what they believe are Western influences of institutions likes evangelical churches. Is that happening in Russia right now?
Yes that’s unfortunately what’s happening. This is the reason why the young generation is opposing their authoritarian style of leadership. If anything is challenged they’re looking for the reason and they believe all to blame is Western influence, especially American influence. And so evangelicals fall under that category because the Russian Orthodox church presents the evangelical church movement as a foreign entity in the religious fields in the anciently known orthodox country of Russia.
George Thomas: How can we pray? Final question. How can we pray for the church in Russia today?
The need is enormous to continue praying for the leaders of the evangelical church of the evangelical movement. Many of them are under a lot of pressure especially when that Yarovaya law that regulates the issues of religious freedom is getting more implemented. We’re monitoring this situation and getting more information. When I speak to you as of yesterday the decision was made in a nearby city of Tula near to Moscow for evangelical churches. The decision was made to confiscate then bulldoze their buildings. And it happens across Russia today. Jehovah Witnesses they were put out of law under that regulation of Yarovaya. And many end up in prisons. So evangelical and especially charismatic Baptists today are under a lot more pressure. And they’re implementing more and more oppressive regulations pressing evangelicals as a foreign entity. So the prayer should be for the leaders that lead the church in the situation like that and for them to navigate under the pressures and continue leading the church to be the light of the Gospel. Light of the truth. So that the church is preaching righteousness in the midst of challenges like they are experiencing today in Russia.
About Mission Eurasia
Mission Eurasia’s mission is to train, equip, and mobilize Christian leadership throughout Eurasia, who will engage in indigenous evangelism, church-planting, holistic ministries, and church growth by developing creative and strategic ministries and by facilitating partnerships between nationals and Western Christians.
Their vision is to evangelize, train, equip, and mobilize the Next Generation in the countries of Eurasia and Israel to lead the church in transforming their nations for Christ.
Source: Global News Alliance, Russian Opposition Leader Seeks Eternal Answers