For the last nine years, Pastor Thomas Kang has been building his dream home in Russia. He designed “House of Joy” to be large enough not only for his own family, but to serve as a retreat for low-income families and the children of soldiers (Pastor Kang is a former military chaplain) and as a gathering place for Christian celebrations and prayer services.
But the dream turned into a nightmare when Pastor Kang and his assistant Ekaterina were summoned to the local immigration office just the day before “House of Joy’s” opening celebration . . . and Pastor Kang never came out again.
Police wanted to talk to them about one of Pastor Kang’s builders, a Ukrainian whose work visa had expired only days earlier. They told Pastor Kang he had to pay a 2,000 ruble fine, which he was willing to do.
However, they then began to question Pastor Kang—a Korean-born naturalized U.S. citizen—about his own activities, accusing him of unspecified violations and threatening him with shadowy punishments. As hour after hour went by in meaningless questions and no concrete charges, it became clear to Pastor Kang that they were simply trying to extort a bribe, an all too common practice. He declared his intention to leave, paid the fine and added a 1,000 ruble “open giving of thanks” to help the police in their work.
Immediately, the officer he was speaking to called in other officers who were waiting outside and arrested Pastor Kang.
Ekaterina, who is in fragile health, was detained overnight without food or water while they continued to question her about vague accusations of wrongdoing. She was released the next day, but Pastor Kang was sent to a detention center.
Without informing Pastor Kang, his family, or his lawyer, police then searched Pastor Kang’s apartment in Moscow, claiming they were looking for recordings of his voice, although they didn’t say why. This might have explained the removal of computers and cell phones from the home, but does not explain the disappearance of several unrelated valuables and 28,000 rubles.
More than four months have passed, investigators have still not produced the legally mandated report of the search to Pastor Kang, and he is still being held at the detention center on a charge of attempted bribery. What was the source of the vague threats against Pastor Kang at the immigration office? Why is such a simple matter taking so long to resolve? Is it specifically to keep him from opening “House of Joy” for Christian worship, or a more subtle attack of Satan against this devoted man of God?
Russian Ministries is committed to raising awareness about Pastor Kang’s plight and advocating for his release. Please pray for Pastor Kang and his family during this difficult and frightening time. And as God leads, please give to Russian Ministries’ Religious Freedom Fund, to provide support and emergency aid for persecuted Christians in the former Soviet Union/Eurasia.