Thursday, 2 December 2010

Freedom for Belarus

In 2008 my two friends and I embarked on a Christian mission to the nation of Belarus on behalf of “Ministries without Borders.” Our trip was part of a global outreach to make contact with Christians in every country represented in the United Nations, and show them practical support.

We chose Belarus as our destination knowing that it is the last remaining communist dictatorship in Europe, and that Christians are routinely discriminated against and oppressed in that country. We particularly wanted to meet a man called Slava Goncharenko, the pastor of New Life Church in the capital city of Minsk, whom we knew had been particularly oppressed by the Belarusian government. He is known in his own country as a man of tremendous courage, who has stood strongly against a brutal and unjust regime on behalf of His God and His people.

In less than twenty years the congregation of New Life Church has swelled from a handful of teenagers to over twelve hundred people. As the church grew it became increasingly difficult for them to find places to worship together. Not only does the Belarusian government not allow churches to own property, but was also it was also forcing the managers of theatres and other municipal buildings to close their doors to New Life Church. Against all odds the church managed to purchase a disused cow barn on some land on the outskirts of the city and convert the building into an auditorium to house the church’s meetings, as well as classrooms for the hundreds of children attending meetings.

Since the completion of the building the government has tried to repossess the land the building stands on. They have cut off the power and water going into the building and even brought troops and bulldozers onto the property to try and force the church to give up what they had legally purchased. At one stage the church went on a fast/hunger strike for almost three weeks in their own building as government officials stood outside. This protest drew media attention from all across the world and even support from the ambassadors of a number of nations including the U.S. While the Belarusian government has backed off from the tactic of removing the church by force from its land the oppression continues as an assortment of underhanded tactics are employed to harass and intimidate the Pastor and his people.

We have created a website which is intended to highlight their situation and rally support for Pastor Slava and New life Church. Please subscribe to the site and lend your voice to theirs. You can also purchase Pastor Slava’s book which tells their story in greater detail through this website. All profits from the book will go towards their ongoing struggle.

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