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May/June 1997

The door of missionary opportunity is about to close in Russia, isn't it?

I'm sure this is the most common question I am asked as I am on deputation. Here are my thoughts:

1. There are signs of trouble. Russia's political situation is volatile and unstable.

President Yeltsin very nearly lost last year's presidential election to the Communist party candidate. He had to hire a secret team of American political consultants to save his campaign.

On June 18, 1997, the Russian Duma (parliament), by a vote of 337 to 5, approved a measure that would severely restrict activities of "non-traditional" religions. This bill benefits the Russian Orthodox church and Muslims. It would greatly hinder the preaching of the Gospel by foreign missionaries. Before the bill can become law, it must pass another vote of the Duma, then it must be signed by President Yeltsin.

In the Republic of Belarus, President Lukashenko has suspended the constitutional parliament and assumed full dictatorial power. He favors a return to the Soviet system.

This spring, Dr. C.W. Fisk led an evangelistic campaign to Belarus. In 2 weeks, his group visited 20 villages and saw over 1000 people saved. In one village, the police prevented them from holding a meeting, telling them to leave in 5 minutes or they would slash their tires! As the group left, the people of the village were very angry, yelling at the police for making the preachers go away.

2. God is in charge!

Nobody could have predicted that the door would ever open for the preaching of the Gospel in Russia. The most sophisticated international experts still cannot explain why the Soviet superpower fell apart.

God opened Russia for His own purposes. Daniel 4:17 - The Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will.

God is able to keep it open as long as He wants to. Proverbs 21:1 - The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: He turneth it whithersoever He will. Rev. 3:8 - I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it.

3. Prayer has an effect.

1 Tim 2:1-2 - I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

Our influence with God will have far more effect on the situation in Russia than our influence with man.

I want to thank all of you for your prayers. In May, we had good meetings in Ohio, Maine, Vermont, and Pennsylvania. At the end of May, we noticed a crack developing along the rear corner of our motor home. My brother in northwest Indiana has a shop with all kinds of power tools, so we went there to do some repairs. I found that the frame and foundation of the motor home had extensive wood rot damage.

It took me all of June to finish the repairs, but the results were very successful. It was a blessing to spend some time with my brother and his family. Also, Ruth was able to see her parents several times while we were in the area. We made contact with several different pastors and churches while we were there. We thank the Lord for some new supporting churches. We plan to spend July having meetings in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. We appreciate your continued prayers.

In the service of the King,
Don Ossewaarde