Tuesday, July 15, 2008

LDS Missionaries In Russia

No, the Church is not pulling out its missionaries that are currently serving Russia. Rather they are not issuing new calls for North Americans and are reassigning those called but not yet in Russia. The problem is with visas.

In the past, the missionary visas were good for 180 days. Even then the non-native missionaries or those that required a visa to be in Russia had to leave the country a for a few days. My son was in the Novosibirsk mission, in the heart of Siberia. He had to leave the country three times, going to Mongolia, Latvia and Ukraine for his temporary exit.

Even at 180 days, the expense is significant due to the physical size of Russia. But at every 90 days, the expense becomes almost unbearable.

The sad part about this is that there are few native Russian missionaries or missionaries that do not require Russian visas; i.e, those from ex-Soviet states. My son mentioned that in his mission of 80 or so missionaries, only a half-dozen were natives.

Obviously, this is going to hurt the growth of the Church until they solve this problem.

Russian politicians are certainly putting their foot down on openness, especially with the west. They are strategically making it harder for the west to do business within Russia. This impacts the Lord's work but also impacts energy sector workers, investment and banking operations, and any western business that has an interest in doing business with Russia.

This is just another example of the controls that Putin, Medvedev and the oligarchy business model are imposing on the Russian people and the world.

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