May 1, 2008
LOVES PARK, ILLINOIS -- The lower chamber of Kazakhstan's parliament has passed new legislation that would impose tough new restrictions on foreign missionary activity and evangelical churches.
Kazakhstan is located in Central Asia, northwest of China; a small portion west of the Ural River in eastern-most Europe.
According to a news release from the Slavic Gospel Association (SGA), Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev would have to approve the legislation before it becomes law.
The news release stated that according to Rev. Franz Tissen, president of the Kazakh Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists, the bill contains a number of troubling provisions.
It would establish quotas of missionaries allowed in Kazakhstan. It would also forbid unregistered missionary activity by foreign workers who are not representatives of religious organizations.
Tissen said the bill would also prohibit distribution of religious material and informational material with religious content to citizens in public places and in private homes, unless the person receiving the literature initiates the contact and agrees to receive the literature.
Tissen told SGA the bill would also stop the acceptance of financial and other donations by religious organizations from anonymous or foreign citizens and organizations. In addition, he said, it would forbid religious activities, meetings or gatherings with children under the age of 18 without written agreement from both parents or legal guardians.
According to the news release, the proposed bill would also target the activities and registration of religious groups that have only a small number of members. It would sharply restrict the right to publish religious literature, and would also make it more difficult for a small group to obtain their own place for worship, or to preach outside of the group itself.
Tissen said in a news release, “This is an absolute intrusion into the inner lives of believers, and limits us by laws and fines as we work to fulfill the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ. I appeal to all believers to join us in fasting and praying for the work of God in Kazakhstan.”
SGA president Dr. Robert Provost also said in the news release, “Please make this a matter of urgent, ongoing prayer before the Lord. This is yet another indication that the doors for ministry are, indeed, continuing to close in the former Soviet Union. But our God is sovereign, and He alone can direct the hearts of the rulers of this world.”
SGA is an interdenominational mission which has been working in the former Soviet Union since 1934. SGA has served churches in Russia through pastor and layleader training, sponsorship of national church planters and the provision of Christian literature.
For more information go to www.sga.org
© 2008 ASSIST News Service, used with permission