Open Doors:Belarus

Belarusian authorities hand out huge fines to street evangelists

“I [Darius King of Persia] issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.”

– Daniel 6:26-27 [NIV]
Belarus

A Belarusian Baptist has been fined more than two months wages for “organised choir singing and conducting conversations on religious topics”, outside a Ushachi public market. A plain clothes policeman told the group of evangelists to stop, but leader of the group, Vladimir Burshtyn, replied that they were not disturbing public order and cited religious freedom guarantees in Belarus’ Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The evangelical group is a member of the Baptist Council of Churches which in 1961 broke away from the Soviet government-recognised Baptist Union in protest at regulations preventing missionary activity and religious instruction to children. Churches are now forced to register with the authorities or they face regular prosecution, a breach of international human rights standards. The dictatorship is one of the most repressive regimes in Europe. While the Eastern Orthodox Church has a privileged position; other denominations are viewed with suspicion and there are numerous attacks on religious buildings and cemeteries but the government makes little response.

In another recent case in the town of Osipovichi three police officers interrupted Sunday worship at the house of Mikhail Sotnichenko. Following the service, Sotnichenko, the congregation’s deacon, was charged with leading an unregistered religious community and subsequently fined two weeks wages.

Source: Forum 18

Prayer Points:

* Pray for Vladimir Burshtyn and Mikhail Sotnichenko that would find the money to pay their fines and would be encouraged to continue reaching out to fellow countrymen
* That God would use signs and wonders to appear to Belarusian people
* That the authorities in Belarus would faithfully uphold their constitutional international human rights and religious freedom commitments.

Thank you for praying with us.

John
Communications Team

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