Religious Freedom in Siberia

From March 2-5, 2015, there were meetings and trainings on the work of PARL and ACM Departments in East Russian Union Mission (ERUM). ERUM leaders, Pastors Jan Taranyuk, Andrew Kalachin and Alexey Novoseltsev, together with the Director of EAD Department, pastor Oleg Goncharov visited the Head of the Department for Religious and National Organizations Affairs in the Novosibirsk region, Administrator Anna Lopareva.

During the meeting, the pastors expressed a proposal to establish an inter-religious Council under the Governor of Novosibirsk region, which would promote further constructive dialogue and resolve the problems of religious organizations. Anna Lopareva thanked the pastors for important social and community work done by Adventist Church in the Novosibirsk region, and expressed the wish for further fruitful cooperation.
During the training for pastors of Central Siberian mission in ERUM office Jan Taranyuk and Oleg Goncharov shared their own experience in the department work and discussed several important issues about protection of religious freedom.

In Tomsk the director of ERUM Chaplain Ministry, Pastor Shalahov with Oleg Goncharov, held the meeting for the mission chaplains. The chaplains met the leadership of Tomsk Department of Corrections and discussed the possibility of cooperation with the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the service for spiritual and social needs of prisoners.

There was also a meeting with the Head of the Committee for State and National Policy and Public Affairs of Tomsk Region Administrator Yevgeny Petrov. During the meeting, ERUM chaplains were able to visit the memorial museum "Tomsk NKVD (People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs) Prison", which was dedicated to Stalinist repression in 1930s.

This tour made a strong impression on the participants of the meeting and served as another incentive to developing the chaplain and PARL ministry. Pastors and chaplains in ERUM believe and pray to have the prison doors opened for preaching Gospel. On ERUM territory, there have been many amazing experiences of how Gospel message changes criminals into faithful Christians. Many of the chaplains who participated in these meetings had gone through the sad experience of imprisonment, but, found Christ, and now they wish to return to the barbed wire to preach the Word of God.

John Graz, Secretary General - International Religious Liberty Association