Kazakhstan (MNN) ― Kazakhstan's Constitutional Council rejected the restrictive draft religion law as unconstitutional.
The law was amended in late 2008 to include mandating a fixed fine of 50 times the minimum monthly salary for those found guilty of worshipping, building or opening places of worship, or publishing or distributing religious literature without government permission.
The amendment also required both parents to give permission before a child could attend a religious event, and it would ban believers from expressing their faith beyond their "own circle."
Speculation is rife over the international pressure that played a role in the Council's decision. Kazakhstan is due to assume the helm of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in 2010. Such a restrictive religion law flies in the face of what the OSCE stands for.
It may LOOK dead, but Carl Kresge with SEND International says, "I wouldn't be surprised if we see something similar -- another push to try to restrict religious freedom. This isn't the first time, and it probably won't be the last."
As debate raged, their team did not change ministry. They won't in the future, either, even with the rumblings of revisiting the law in 2011. "We're always aware that there are elements in the country that wish we weren't there. We know that we're there legally, openly, and with a religious visa that comes by an invitation from the Baptist Union Churches."
Believers are actively building mercy ministries with drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs, kindergartens, ministry to the elderly, orphanages, children's clubs, youth ministry and new churches.
SEND works to strengthen the local church as it shares the Gospel in Kazakhstan. "Pray that the Lord would continue to give us an open door to be able to work with the evangelical churches in the country, to be able to serve them, [and] to help them proclaim the Gospel in that country."