Tuesday, November 4, 2008

"Be thou strong, and of a good courage"

The Area President, Elder Paul B. Pieper, after a recent phone call with a member in Khazakstan, was sorry to note that the brother had been drinking. Then he said, “I will never condemn that man. Never.” This man was one of the first twenty to sign the church registration document in his country.

In the late 1980’s the Church began its official entry into the former USSR, but “legal recognition” was required. In order to get it, any church had to submit an application explaining its purpose, and they had to get twenty local citizens to sign.

A book we're reading tells it like this: “For a Soviet citizen to sign such an application at that time required more courage and deeper commitment than most non-Soviets can imagine. Petitions such as these had recently furnished names for KGB investigation and often reprisal.” Imprisonment was not likely, but “subtle and intimidating administrative punishment, such as loss of opportunity” was not unlikely (Browning, Russia and the Restored Gospel, 1997,18-19).

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