Staunton, December 4 – Protestant churches are growing rapidly in the western portion of the North Caucasus where they have been accepted by most of the population if not by the republic governments, but they are still facing stiff resistance from both in Chechnya, Daghestan and Ingushetia, according to a new report.
In an article posted on the Kavpolit.com portal, journalist Nilena Pinatova, there are now numerous Protestant congregations in the west, some with a long history and others the result of the recent efforts of European missionaries, but there are few in the east where Muslims and republic governments view Protestantism as alien (kavpolit.com/reformaciya-kavkaza/
Despite this official neglect, the Protestants are active, carrying out social work, helping in hospices and homes for the elderly. They also are active in rehabilitating alcoholics and drug addicts, and they help orphans and seek to place them in permanent homes. At present, one Nalchik minister notes, there are 550 drug rehabilitation centers in Russia, all of which are operated by Protestants.
While missionaries and new converts are viewed somewhat suspiciously, the pastors say, both groups have won approval by their quiet work, although some residents view them as threatening either because of their links to communities outside of Russia or because Protestants are among the most active in speaking up about problems. As one pastor noted, “we are constantly writing letters and appeals to various institutions,” something “not everyone likes.”
The missionaries often have to defend their presence, pointing out that the West “does not finance” them and that they have come not to live comfortably as they could have done by remaining in Europe but in order to “make the world a better place,” which they say is “after all what a human being should be trying to do.”