Belarus reverting back to the Soviet days, Christians targeted

By May 30, 2005

Belarus (MNN) — United States President George W. Bush is calling it the last dictatorship in Europe. In response, Belarus is responding negatively by putting pressure on groups pushing political change and on Christians who appear to have ties to the west.

Sergey Rakhuba with Peter Deyneka Russian Ministries was in Belarus recently and says government is reverting back to the days of the Soviet Union. He was able observe how tense the situation is there. “The government is providing all kinds of pressure to evangelical groups that are trying to build their ministries there,” says Rakhuba. He adds, “Recently they (passed) a law, a regulation, that they had to reregister all evangelical churches in Belarus and of course many of them disagreed with it and now they’re considered illegal groups.”

The freedom that came with the fall of the Soviet Union a decade ago is now gone, Rakhuba says, “They cannot do any evangelistic events. They can’t do any humanitarian events on behalf of the church because it would promote their ministries. So, there’s a serious situation today.”

Christian leaders are followed by the secret police. Rakhuba was warned not to talk business on the telephone. “Any time when they talk on the phone, they just warn you don’t give any specific names. Don’t give any specific time or any other data because it’s all monitored.”

The recent comments by President Bush are adding to the pressure of Christians in the region. “Especially (the) evangelical community that has ties to western evangelical organizations and churches, it looks like it’s a threat to the current government in Belarus.”

While the persecution against believers seems to be increasing, leaders are responding well. “Some of the leaders, they say, ‘we appreciate the persecution is coming back because we feel more committed to God, more to ministry. Under pressure we do a better job.’ But, at the same time they say it limits them.”

Russian Ministries already has two regional evangelism and church planting centers, and Rakhuba says they’re going to build another one in the city where Peter Deyneka Sr. was born. “We are looking for $75,000 to raise to build that building. And, we need about $17,000 on an annual basis for operations.”

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