A word for our friends outside Russia

M o s c o w -- Hearty Christmas greetings and best wishes to friends of the “Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists” around the world! We too are busy – busy binding up wounds, both the physical and the spiritual ones. Despite the present financial crisis, we continue our work. This is not the first time since 1990 that our country has experienced serious monetary instability. We continue to strive for the spiritual and economic development of our church. Just now, on 13 December, our Union published an 80-page document entitled “The Social Concept of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists” It covers a broad range of social, political and ethical issues.

The paper laments ongoing elements of xenophobia, racism, nationalism and anti-Semitism in Russian society. It also pays tribute to the historical role of Russian Orthodoxy and other Christian denominations in the development of the country and stresses its desire not to offend those from other confessions. It even recommends cooperation with non-Christian religions in the defence of religious liberty.

We from the RUECB want to continue proving to our neighbours in the country that we too are a traditional Russian entity. We too are committed to the betterment of our society and people. We want the Russian nation and its churches to thrive.

The statement makes clear that we Russian Baptists desire to be - and are - loyal citizens of our country. But I would add that we concede to our brothers and sisters elsewhere the same right to serve their countries and peoples. But this patriotism is not nationalistic – it dare not harm and reject other societies and countries.  We love our nation, which does not mean that we are allowed to hate or harm other ones.

The paper affirms positive things which we can learn from the West. The paper decries for ex. the weak interest in environmental issues within church and political circles. It recommends that Russia avail itself of the experience of those societies which have “achieved greater success in this realm”.

Regarding the issue of peace: We thank God when the guns in Eastern Ukraine are silent. But we are hoping for much more, for long-term peace. We love our brothers and sisters in Ukraine and long for the day when we can again relate to each other in a constructive fashion. We Russians and Ukrainians are from the same cultural and spiritual family, and the pain of parts of the family causes pain for the family in its entirety.

We do not live on packed suitcases. Our commitment is to remain in Russia and work for God’s kingdom here. It is no coincidence that we were born in Russia or the former Soviet Union. God had good reasons for placing us here. Escape, both in its internal and external forms, are not an alternative which God usually blesses.

When we make mistakes, when we offend others, we as individuals or as a Union want to ask for forgiveness. As the Apostle Paul says: “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” 1 Cor. 13,12

Warm thanks to those who care and pray for us.

Rev. Vitaly Vlasenko
Director, Dept. for External Church Affairs, RUECB
Moscow, 22 December 2014

This is an official statement from the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists, Office for External Church Relations. This release may be reprinted free-of-charge if the source is cited. Release #14-15, 536 words.