In the occupied territories of Ukraine, the authorities confiscated the seventh building of the ECB churches (media)

Another church building run by a Baptist congregation was forcibly seized by occupation authorities in eastern Ukraine earlier this month, with authorities claiming a mine was planted there. According to the Voice of the Martyrs, a ministry to persecuted Christians, this is already the seventh church building of the ECB seized by the administration or military of the Russian Federation in the occupied territories.

Voice of the Martyrs spokesperson Dr. Hyun Sook Foley said the communities are not losing heart.

“Churches continue to meet for worship in the homes of church members,” Dr. Foley said. “The pastor of the church whose building was seized earlier this month told us: ‘We are praying for those who moved into our House of Prayer.’”

She said members of the church were prohibited from holding services in the building, but authorities allowed church members to pick up communion supplies.

According to Dr. Foley, six of the churches whose buildings were seized are located in the south of the Donetsk region and one is in the Zaporozhye region, which borders Donetsk. She said her ministry does not disclose the names or locations of churches or pastors for security reasons, but wants to draw public attention to the special persecution of evangelical Christian Baptists in the occupied territories.

“The ECB churches are of course not the only churches being persecuted in the occupied territories, but they are regularly the target of suspicion and negative attention from the occupation authorities because they are registered in the Ukrainian state registry,” said Voice of the Martyrs spokeswoman Foley. She says authorities treat these churches with a “guilty until proven otherwise” mentality.

“Baptist churches are under attack not because they have done anything wrong or are even suspected of wrongdoing, but because the occupying authorities require them to prove their loyalty and submission,” says Dr. Foley.

She says many ministers were forced to leave the occupied territories because of hostilities against them and their churches.

“Recently, utility companies have increasingly refused to enter into contracts with ECB churches for maintenance and utility services because utility workers are concerned that they may be accused of complicity,” says Dr. Foley. “The occupation authorities demand that churches be registered in accordance with Russian law, although they are aware that such requirements violate international law.”

Dr. Foley shared a message from the pastor of a Baptist church whose building was recently repossessed. “Greetings. At the moment, the military has occupied the House of Prayer and is living there. The reason is explained by the fact that higher authorities do not allow religious services to be held [in the building].”

Voice of the Martyrs spokesman Foley says the situation facing Christians in the neighboring so-called Lugansk People’s Republic is also difficult. “Residents of the occupied territories are forced to accept Russian citizenship, otherwise they will be deprived of pensions and benefits, and they face confiscation of their homes and property,” says Dr. Foley. — Christians, especially pastors, are faced with a difficult choice. They do not want to receive Russian citizenship, but if they refuse to accept it, they may be deprived of their jobs or forcibly evicted to the territory of the Russian Federation.”

Dr. Foley says Voice of the Martyrs is calling for prayer for the seven churches whose buildings have been confiscated, as well as for other pastors and Christians in the occupied territories facing persecution by the occupation authorities.

“Pray that these seven churches can testify for Christ even as they are subjected to unlawful pressure and persecution by the authorities,” she said. —Pray that even after the confiscation of church buildings, the Lord will use these circumstances to spread the gospel into homes, surrounding communities and rural areas. Pray that at a time when the occupying authorities are demanding that pastors and other Christians accept Russian citizenship, the Lord will show them the importance and reality of their heavenly citizenship in the Kingdom of God.”

“Voice of the Martyrs”

Source: На оккупированных территориях Украины власти конфисковали седьмое здание церквей ЕХБ (СМИ) | Новости inVictory

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