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July 3, 2016 - Children's meetings - Police come to our church house
We had a regular Sunday morning meeting on July 3. One of the young evangelists preached to our people and he did a good job. I discussed with our people what I had learned about the new law, and one of them told me that it had already passed the upper house of parliament.
--Sunday morning after church--
The first meeting for children was scheduled to start at 5pm Sunday night. There was no rain in the forecast. It was beautiful weather all day long, until about 3:30 pm. Then dark clouds swept in, and we had one of the worst thunderstorms I have ever seen here. We went to the church under a heavy rainfall, and waited out front under umbrellas to make sure that anybody looking for us could find us. Nobody came, which considering the weather was totally understandable. We waited until about 5:20, then went back inside the church and started getting ready to leave.
Around 5:30, there was a knock at the door. Good! we thought, somebody has come after all. Four men were at the door. One was a uniformed officer. Two men showed me official badges and wanted to know who Donald was. They wanted to talk to me. I invited them in. They were not hostile or aggressive, but they wanted to know what was going on with some kind of children’s meeting. We told them that we had planned a meeting for that evening, but apparently the rain had kept the kids from coming. They started to tell me that I had no right to teach religion to children without permission from their parents.
God gave me a calm heart and a clear mind. I showed them copies of our fliers, and explained how no children could even find our meeting until we had consent from a parent. They were impressed, and said I had done well to think up such a plan. Then they wanted to see all of our documents, they took a lot of pictures, and asked questions about every place we had ever lived, and everything we had ever done. They wanted to know our opinion about the conflict with Ukraine, and I just said that it was a political situation that has brought sorrow to many people, and I do not get involved in any way with politics.
--police ask questions--
They wrote down everything we said in a book, and then they tried to say that I could not just invite people to my house to talk about the Bible. I recited to them what I know about the laws of Russia, and asked them if I was mistaken in any point. One guy told the other, “He’s actually right”, so they dropped that subject. They interviewed us for about an hour and a half. In the end, they realized that I really did have all my ducks in a row, and there were no violations of any kind.
I believe that someone called the police to complain while we were giving out flyers, and these men were just checking out the complaint. How did they find us when there was no address on the flyer? My name was on each paper, and I’m sure they have a file on me, and know where my house is. How did they know to show up right after the meeting was to start at 5pm? The only people that I told the time of the meeting were the ones who called the number on the flyer. At least one of the callers must have been a policeman pretending to be a parent. They came prepared to catch us red handed. I am positive that if even one child had been in the house without parental consent, we would all have been deported from the county right away.
What do they suspect I am doing that would be a threat to them? It’s not like the old days when they feared American spies would learn their military secrets. They gave themselves away when they asked my opinion about Ukraine. They are convinced that the USA was behind the protests in Kiev that led to the overthrow of the pro-Russian government there. They fear that America wants to stir up a similar protest movement in Russia that would overthrow the Putin government. They use so much propaganda in this country, and around the world, that they are afraid we will use propaganda against them.
News reports at that time said that the law as written would make it illegal to have Bible study in a private house, or even to witness in private conversation. I was also told that the law was intended to target muslim extremists, so I thought maybe it wouldn’t be used against Baptists. We did not change our plan to do a week of Bible time. The parental consent requirement apparently reduced the number of kids who would come, but I felt that if we stuck to our plan we would be safe. I felt a fairly strong sense of satanic opposition. I was totally healthy until I went to Moscow the previous week; now I was coming down with chest congestion and a sore throat. When we order a taxi, it usually arrives in about 5 minutes. After the young men got here, we experienced severe delays of as much as 30 minutes wait time. I told them, “Things are happening since you arrived that NEVER happen here.”
I wrote to my family in America: "Satan is opposing us. I suppose he can sense that God is moving in some way. Whether or not we are nearing the end of our opportunities to serve here, we will stick to our plans. I don’t think we have to pull the plug just yet, but we need to be very careful. We may reach someone very important this week, even if we never see any visible results. Whenever I feel like our ministry here has not been much of a success, I think about the story of a pastor in Scotland, who (according to moreillustrations.com) was told by his deacons, "We love you, pastor, but don't you think you had better resign? There hasn't been a convert this year." "Yes," he replied, "it has been a dull year. Yet I mind me that one did come—wee Bobby Moffat. But he is so wee a brian that I suppose it is no right to count him." That pastor may have died before he could see Robert Moffatt become a great missionary, but that may have been the greatest year's work he ever did."