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Four churches are currently experiencing harassment by officials in areas now under Russian control, Voice of the Martyrs Korea has confirmed.

The churches, two of which are located in Mariupol and the other two in Manhush and Vasilievka, have been harassed since Russian forces took control of the Donetsk and Zaporozhye regions.

Dr Hyun Sook Foley, representative for VOM Korea, reports that the four churches “have recently been visited by officials or soldiers who conducted searches, confiscated equipment, demanded documents, and in one case even forcibly evacuated church members from their building”.

According to Dr Foley, VOM Korea has maintained private channels of communication with Christians and churches who are currently in areas of armed conflict. Dr Foley says that church leaders in the region are asking for prayer.

Christ the Saviour Church in Mariupol, one of four churches in regions newly under Russian control.

“Back in March, Central Baptist Church in Mariupol buried two martyred church members who were part of a group of five whose van was hit by a grenade as they were doing deliveries and caring for 200 people living in the church basement as the city came under attack,” says Dr Foley. “Now, the city is under Russian control. The church building itself was destroyed. Only the basement remains. On Sunday 12 June, the remaining church members, less than a hundred, were gathered together for worship. Armed men came with threats and demanded the church’s registration documents. Unfortunately, the armed men were given the original documents, which they took with them.”

Dr Foley says the outcome was more severe in the village of Manhush, 30km away from Mariupol; “Voice of the Martyrs Korea received reports that on 15 or 16 June, the Russian military drove the believers out of their prayer house and rehabilitation centre.”

A minister in Vasilievka reported a similar visit from authorities last week, according to VOM Korea. The minister shared: “A few FSB (Federal Security Service) officers came to the prayer house, registered everyone, said that they were closing the church and there would be no further meetings. Then officers went to the presbyter’s house, carried out a search, took away laptops and phones for checking. The official said that this was not all. We need God’s support and protection of our family members and the church.”

Despite the difficult conditions, many churches in these regions continue to operate. “Believers have told us that they are trying to restore their church buildings to usable condition, but it is difficult due to the lack of building materials, electricity, and outside communication,” says Dr Foley. “One church leader told us that the occupying authorities don’t permit humanitarian aid from Ukraine, America or Europe to enter into Mariupol. But he said that Russian Christians are now helping their fellow believers in the city.”

Source: Voice of the Martyrs Korea

Please Pray

  • Pray that churches in the area will be allowed to gather without further harassment.
  • Pray for the Christians who remain behind and are risking their lives to engage as faithful witnesses.
  • Pray for VOM Korea and other organisations that are providing emergency assistance to locals caught behind the line of conflict.