Russia Work Monitored by Authorities
HOT SOUP–The Army provides physical and spiritual care to the homeless.
Majors Don and Isa McDougald, territorial finance secretary and overseas personnel director, respectively, recently returned from Russia and other CIS countries where they had opportunities to observe the Army in action and see the manner in which the Army in Russia was treated as a result of the recent passage of the religious law restricting the practices of religious groups that have not been resident in Russia for at least 15 years.
It is reported that individuals have begun systematic monitoring of Army services with intent to assure compliance to the full extent of the law. “What a marvelous opportunity is ours to preach to these representatives,” McDougald said.
“No longer can the Army print or publish books or periodicals; no teaching of religious beliefs to anyone under 21 years of age; and no housing services may be provided any citizens. A number of additional restrictions inhibit our abilities to assist the Russian people,” he added.
“Not being able to conduct Sunday school for young people is a challenge, but it means that we have an opportunity to provide the parents with the tools to teach their children. Bible teaching will now be a family activity rather than being left to the church for a Sunday activity. While we can no longer print or publish material, we can still provide Bibles for those who ask. Moreover, we can still own or rent property. Some rental agreements with the Army had been terminated as a result of a misunderstanding of the new law in some locations.
“If the Officers’ Training Institute had remained in Moscow, it would now be closed. But God, in his infinite wisdom, led the Russia/CIS command to relocate the Institute to larger facilities in Helsinki, Finland, last July. The training of cadets continues unimpeded by passage of the new law. Because St. Petersburg is only a few hours from Helsinki, field training continues in Russia.”
McDougald notes that the Army in Russia exists only because of World Service and Self Denial gifts. There can be no public fund raising. He asks for special prayer for our fellow Salvationists in Russia. “The times are difficult, but the Army is surviving and growing. Pray for the Smalleys and Fagerstroms that God will watch over, protect and guide them.
The McDougalds visited extensively and conducted officers’ councils while in Russia. They will be reporting regularly concerning various places where the Army functions in the area.