Soviet authorities reportedly are processing applications from about a dozen Pentexostal families who want to emigrate to the United States.
They are among several hundred Pentecostals who are being aided in their efforts to leave the Soviet Union by the Tolstoy Foundation of New York and by Evangelism to Communist Lands, of Glendale, Calif.
The Pentecostals, who have reported a surprising willingness on the part of Soviet officials for them to leave, are from Nahodka near Vladivostok in eastern Siberia.
According to Gloria Kies, executive director of Evangelism to Communist Lands, the effort was initiated when a Pentecostal named Eugene Bresenden emigrated from the U.S.S.R. in 1975. Bresended, now employed by the Far East Broadcasting Company in Whittier, Calif., brought a list of other Pentecostals who wanted to leave. He gave the list to Evangelism to Communist Lands, and that agency and the Tolstoy Foundation began seeking U.S. sponsors for the families.
Alla Ivask, who directs the refugee resettlement program for the Tolstoy Foundation, said, "We ourselves are a taboo organization as far as the U.S.SR. is concerned, and we could not sign their (emigration) petitions, so we had to rely on the pentecostal churches (in the United States) to sponsor them."
Almost 60 invitations were sent by registered mail to families in the Soviet Union. "To my great surprise," Ivask said, "we can say that 90 percent of the people received this document."
Of those who submitted emigration petitions, she reported, about 30 of the families have been told by Soviet authorities that their applications will be considered and that about 12 are now being processed.
The Tolstoy Foundation is contacting Pentecostal congregations to sponsor the refugees, but Ivask said a sponsoring group need not be Pentecostal.