New church registration in Belarus under pressure

By October 30, 2006

Belarus (MNN) — The unregistered evangelical church could face difficulty in the days ahead if the powerful Orthodox Church has its way. According to Forum 18 News, Belarusian state officials, with the help of the Russian Orthodox Church, is pressuring parishioners to withdraw their signatures from state registration applications.

Unregistered religious activity is illegal in Belarus. Part of the registration process is that 20 Belarusian citizens must sign applications. Those are the people being pressured to removed their names. Once that happens, the registration process must start over.

According to Slavic Gospel Association Joel Griffith says this isn’t affecting their work so much. “The Union of Evangelicals Christians Baptist is the main body there. They do indeed get pressure with new churches. I think that’s pretty plain. But, those that are registered and have their own buildings are pretty much left alone to function, they just can’t do anything outside their buildings.”

However, he’s concerned about the unregistered churches. Griffith says they will have trouble.

While Christians are facing more difficulty country wide, Griffith says it will ultimately be bad for the church. “As was shown during the communist years when there really was intense persecution going on, it was said often enough that the martyrs are the seed of the church. It seems like whenever there’s intense pressure on the church that’s when the churches seem to flourish.”

According to Griffith, Christians need to pray. “The Bible says the heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord. And so, we would certainly pray that the hearts of the officials, not only at the national level but also on a local level, we would pray that their hearts would be softened to where they would allow unrestricted worship and unrestricted evangelism.”

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