An American missionary in Russia, who is appealing to the country’s Supreme Court against his conviction for holding religious services in his home and inviting others to attend them, says he is fighting to make sure everyone in Russia is free to read the Bible and pray.

“If I don’t have the right to sit in my own house with my friends and read the Bible and pray, then nobody has that right in this country, whether they are Russian citizens or foreign visitors,” Don Ossewaarde told CBN.

Ossewaarde, who has lived in Oryol, 220 miles south of Moscow, with his wife, Ruth, for 14 years, was fined $640 under Russia’s Yarovaya Law, which came into effect last summer and has been dubbed the “anti-missionary law” by critics. His is the first case under the law to reach the Supreme Court.

Although the government said the law was part of its anti-terrorism efforts, Sergey Rakhuba, president of Mission Eurasia, told CBN that, in reality, “the Russian authorities are trying to restrict the Protestant and evangelical movements and stop them from spreading their influence and the message of the Gospel”.