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How To Feel The Spirit When Religion Is Limited In China and Russia

Posted by Emily Cummings on 12/1/16 6:17 AM

ILP China

While you can still go to church when living abroad in Russia and China, it can be a little more difficult to feel the spirit in a country where you can’t (legally speaking) share your religious beliefs. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be creative when it comes to sharing your testimony and feeling the spirit.

Living in a foreign country is a different experience than living in the United States…can you imagine actually living in China? Or riding the modern metro on your way to school while you teach English in Russia? Whether you’ve chosen to volunteer abroad in either of these countries (or one of ILP’s other countries) adapting to life abroad is different…in a good way!

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While International Language Programs (ILP) is not affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a lot of our volunteers are members of that faith. No matter what country you are living in, there are wards or branches you can attend for the Church of Jesus Christ.

However, living in China or Russia does mean following rules about sharing your beliefs. 

  • Life in China 
  • Life in Russia 
  • Sharing The Gospel Abroad 

Life In China

While volunteering with ILP isn’t about sharing your religion, we know that continuing to grow your faith while living abroad is a large part of your experience. As a foreigner you can go to the LDS church in China,  though it might be different than at home!

You could have a local branch nearby full of expats who are living in China. Or, you might need to Skype into a local branch or meet in a member’s home. Because of the law surrounding religion, church members are not allowed to share their beliefs with any Chinese nationalists, but there are other ways you can legally share the Gospel. 

China is full of incredibly beautiful and holy religious sites. While I did not visit any LDS temples in China (there's currently one in Hong Kong, but not in mainland China), I still was able to reflect about my values when I visited Buddhist Temples or reflected in the gardens. I wanted to be an example of light and kindness even if I couldn’t express what I believe in. I learned to see the spirit and grow my testimony by sharing a smile, instead of sharing my religion. 

ILP China

Life In Russia 

Russian law has a strict policy against sharing religious ideas in public or even in your own home, very similar to China's laws. You can only share your beliefs where you worship.

However, ILP volunteers in Russia have the chance to attend church while living in Russia.  Some volunteers have even attended an institute. You can also share your beliefs in other ways that don’t go against Russia’s law.

You might be attending a ward or branch that is conducted in Russian which is an incredible experience; going to church in a different language means you are truly learning by the spirit because you might only understand a word or two of the lesson. You might  be amazed at how you can have a spiritual interaction between someone you meet on the street just by being kind or respectfully visiting another religion’s holy site.

ILP Russia

Feeling The Spirit Abroad 

Despite what China or Russia’s government may say about sharing your religion, you can find ways to share your testimony while obeying your country’s laws. Sharing your thoughts with other members of your ILP group and those who are attending your ward or branch will help you grow your faith while living abroad.

You can also get the chance to share that happiness by sharing a smile or showing kindness to the people around you. While you can’t tell them about your beliefs, you can live as an example of your religion; people will see that. Also, having the opportunity to feel the spirit by praying for those who don’t share your faith is an incredible way to strengthen your beliefs and your testimony. 

ILP China

Want more about going to church while living in a foreign country?

Or maybe you’d like to know more about what life abroad with ILP is really like? International Language Programs gives some great opportunities for LDS volunteers all over the world. 

Click the button below to find out more about how our program works, what to expect from your semester and what life abroad is really like: 

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Topics: Asia, Europe, LDS


We are ILP, a Utah based non-profit org that has service abroad opportunities for college-age volunteers. We're sharing all our tips for making the most of your time traveling and living abroad.

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