Russian Charismatics Face Intensified Religious Persecution

by | Apr 30, 2003 | Charisma Archive

Churches have been burned near Moscow, and Christians have come under attack in a traditionally Orthodox region
Citing beatings and church arsons that have occurred during the last two years, charismatic Christian leaders in Chekhov, a small industrial city outside Moscow, say they are enduring some of the worst religious persecution in Russia.

“Now, it is as though I don’t live in Chekhov. I stay off the street and, as much as possible, out of sight,” pastor Cosme Tossa, who has been severely beaten twice outside his home, said in a January interview. “I’m afraid to invite new people from the street now. We just serve the same people.”

Since the attacks on Tossa, arsonists have targeted two other churches, burning both to the ground. Police have made no arrests in any of the attacks.

Tossa and other members of Chekhov’s tiny Protestant community of some 250 people attribute the violence to the local mafia’s efforts to stop the growth of any faith other than the dominant Russian Orthodox Church.

“We are praying. We are trying to understand why it happened,” said Valentina Milovanova, a member of a charismatic Presbyterian congregation. Her church has been burned twice, most recently in October.

She recalled how thugs threatened construction workers building the church shortly before the first arson in November 2001. “They said: ‘There won’t be any kind of church here. We’ve got only Orthodoxy in this town,'” she said.

Her congregation of some 40 believers meets in the cramped living room of her apartment. Each of the city’s four other Protestant congregations also meet in apartments because they cannot get permission to rent space in local movie theaters or meeting halls. In Russia, where Orthodox Christians, Muslims and Buddhists outnumber Protestants, such restricted access to rental property is common because locals often eye Protestants with suspicion.

Milovanova is determined to eventually rebuild the church, but Tossa has had enough and would like to leave Russia for church work in the West.

“I can’t see any sort of mission for me here,” he said. Tossa has been in Russia since 1985, when he came as a student from Benin. Eventually he married a local woman, took Russian citizenship and fathered four children. As an African charismatic Protestant, Tossa has had an especially hard time in Chekhov, where he is the only black man in a city of 150,000 people.

Elsewhere in the former Soviet Union, a Pentecostal home church in Georgia was attacked for three days by Orthodox Christians, who object to the very existence of minority faiths in the predominantly Orthodox nation.

The 250-member church in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, bases its work in the home of pastor Nikolai Kalutsky. The pastor said he was defenseless as a mob of some 40 people, led by two Orthodox priests, besieged his property. Police observed the conflict but made no arrests, Kalutsky said.

The attack began on Friday, July 5, when the Orthodox Christians staked out the street in front of Kalutsky’s home and tried to persuade members of the congregation not to attend an evening prayer service.

“They blocked the road and grabbed believers by the arm and said: ‘Don’t go there! They are Satanists!’ We decided not to have the [prayer] meeting, and people were going to go home,” recalled Kalutsky, who, nevertheless, wanted to bless his church members in the street.

“Then some of them grabbed my arm so that I couldn’t even bless the people,” he said.

Kalutsky said the next day the Orthodox mob stormed into his home and broke up a 6 p.m. worship service, turning over benches, pushing and shoving members of the congregation and roughing up the pastor’s 53-year-old wife, Vera, who was hospitalized for three days with head injuries. Cowed by police, the mob simply picketed the church on the final day of the attack, a Sunday on which Kalutsky said he decided to cancel the ordinary prayer service.

The mob’s rationale for the attacks was simple, Kalutsky said: “They told us, ‘Georgia is an Orthodox country, and it is only for the Orthodox.'”

Georgia, a country of 5 million located between Turkey and Russia, was one of the first states in the region to accept Christianity in the fourth century. Today the vast majority of the population is nominally Orthodox. There are only an estimated 5,000 adult Pentecostal and charismatic Christians in Georgia, and they keep a low profile.
Frank Brown in Chekhov, Russia


Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


Learn How to Be Grateful From Those Who Have So Little

Learn How to Be Grateful From Those Who Have So Little

Read Time: 3 Minutes 18 Seconds Looking around my hometown of Los Angeles, my heart soars with gratitude. My home is safe, my bills are paid and I was fortunate to be able to serve my family an ample Thanksgiving meal. And yet, I am fully aware that hundreds of...

5 Ways to Improve Your Emotional and Spiritual Health

5 Ways to Improve Your Emotional and Spiritual Health

Read Time: 4 Minutes 50 Seconds Do you believe the Lord is concerned about your emotional and spiritual health? He is. He wants you to know how to improve your emotional and spiritual health to be resilient in turbulent times. One of the most powerful things you can...

I Never Thought I’ve Have to Say This: Jesus Was Not Trans

I Never Thought I’ve Have to Say This: Jesus Was Not Trans

Read Time: 3 Minutes 27 Seconds You may have heard about the controversy that erupted in Cambridge, England, this past Sunday at Trinity College. The preacher, Joshua Heath, a junior research fellow who has a Ph.D. in theology, offered a sermon in which he suggested...

Prophetic Word: Goodness Is Following You, Turn and See

Prophetic Word: Goodness Is Following You, Turn and See

Read Time: 4 Minutes 48 Seconds At a recent gathering where a person was struggling, I heard and declared by the Spirit of the Lord, “Goodness is following you; turn and see. Embrace His goodness in this moment and watch the shift!” There was an immediate shift and...

Why Becoming Like God Requires Special Effort

Why Becoming Like God Requires Special Effort

Read Time: 2 Minutes 7 Seconds We can walk with God and come into unity with Him by clothing ourselves in His nature. This will require that we restrict and control the desires of the flesh by putting our focus on obtaining the very substance and characteristics of...

Jonathan Cahn: How the Great Seduction Overwhelmed America

Jonathan Cahn: How the Great Seduction Overwhelmed America

Read Time: 7 Minutes, 16 Seconds Is it possible that ancient entities known as "the gods" have returned to our world? If so, who are these gods? And could they be the hidden agents transforming modern culture? Is it possible that in the mythologies of the ancient...

3 Reasons for Hope This Advent Season

3 Reasons for Hope This Advent Season

Read Time: 3 Minutes 6 Seconds I didn’t grow up celebrating Advent. When I was little, we put up a tree, got presents and had a Christmas Eve service. It seemed to me that most grown-ups were stressed over Christmas and thankful when it was all over. It wasn’t until...


How To Be Hilariously Happy in Your Giving

Read Time: 4 Minutes 17 Seconds The day after Thanksgiving is culturally called Black Friday, in the U.S. It marks the beginning of retail sales that could ensure a successful and profitable...
Prophetic Word: The Lord Says, ‘I Am About to Redeem the Times’

Prophetic Word: The Lord Says, ‘I Am About to Redeem the Times’

Read Time: 3 Minutes 39 Seconds In corporate prayer the other day, I was in place of deep prayer and intercession when I heard in my spirit, "Redeem the times." As I continued to pray, I just kept hearing "Redeem the times" echo in my spirit. Then the Lord said, "I am...

Pin It on Pinterest