October 2016

christians-in-ukraine-prison
The believers in this prison are growing strong in their faith due to the faithful ministry of our friends and partners in Ukraine. Please help support them in sharing the love of Christ.

Ukrainian Prisoners Experience Freedom- Endless fields of sunflowers waiting for harvest rushed past our van window as we bumped and jostled across the Ukraine landscape of rich black soil. Walls ringed with barbed wire rose to meet us as we slowly pulled into the minimum security prison surrounded by a sleepy Ukrainian village.

Our small team was joined by local missionaries who visit this prison weekly to disciple the believers inside. God is working there, setting free those who are in prison and reminding us how precious our faith really is. Rivers of Living Water flowed in the hearts of many men as Pastor Brian shared from God’s Word and men responded.

Our travels continued, working with our Ukrainian partners who do the “heavy lifting” of making disciples. Whether in Russia or Ukraine, our focus is sharing God’s love, making disciples, assisting the poor, and working in partnership with local believers.

After praying with men for strength, we visited a small farm / rehabilitation center for released prisoners. MP has purchased a neighboring parcel to assist this needed ministry to help men grow in Christ while adjusting to life in freedom.

You can give today towards this Prisoner Rehab Ministry

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Your support of Mercy Projects opens prison doors and transforms lives.
Thank you for your trust and faithfulness to share faith, hope, and love with those who do not know Him.

This small house houses 4 men who now work on the farm.

Russia’s New Law Restricting Religion

In recent months, Russian parliament passed a new restrictive law on religious life in their country. Simultaneously, though it is seldom in the US media, the conflict in eastern Ukraine continues. In the midst of these events, we report on how God is changing lives in these two countries.

In late July, Russia’s parliament passed a set of new anti-terrorism laws that also restrict Christian practice and expression. Since these laws restrict the public proclamation of faith, even in private conversation, they are considered to be the harshest set of laws on religion since the Soviet era.

The “Yarovaya” package of laws now requires missionaries to have permits and makes house churches illegal. Sharing one’s faith is now punishable by law unless it takes place inside a
legally registered house of worship. People who disobey can suffer fines and imprisonment.

Russian evangelicals are worried, yet many believe that these new laws will not be implemented or enforced as strictly as they are written.

Church planting in a war-torn village in eastern Ukraine. Jeff and Pastor Brian Bell of Calvary Murrieta encourage local missionaries on a recent trip.
Church planting in a war-torn village in eastern Ukraine. Jeff and Pastor Brian Bell of Calvary Murrieta encourage local missionaries on a recent trip.

“This is probably true,” said MP director Jeff Thompson. “The approval of these laws however, legitimizes a selective enforcement by Russian authorities across the country. Future Moscow press releases will simply inform us that Christians have ‘broken the law.’ The rights of Protestant believers are clearly in danger as repression of dissent
increases in Russia.”

Sergei Ryakhovsky, a leader of Protestant Churches, wrote, “The law is the most draconian anti-religion bill to be proposed in Russia since Nikita Khrushchev promised to eliminate Christianity in the Soviet Union.”

Many believe that the West needs to wait and see what happens and not overreact. At Mercy Projects, we ask our friends and supporters to pray for our Russian brothers and sisters. Pray for their strength and wisdom to navigate the situation and stand true to their faith. Doors may appear to be closing, but they are not closed yet.

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