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Nearly three weeks after police raided a Sunday worship service in the city of Gomel, located in southeast Belarus, a court fined Pastor Sergei Nikolaenko on June 19th for leading an unapproved religious meeting. There are concerns that a criminal charge may be in preparation against him.

Trouble began for Pastor Nikolaenko and his congregation on the afternoon of Sunday, May 31st when local police -- accompanied by the riot squad -- raided the Reformed Orthodox Transfiguration Church he was pastoring. Some 20 church members had gathered for worship in a rented venue within the city's Central District. On June 11th, a local authority commission banned further meetings from taking place, despite the church having been previously granted government registration. Additionally, police have searched Pastor Nikolaenko's home for "sectarian" literature, as well as the home of another participating church member.

In another situation, an active member of a Council of Churches congregation in the nearby district of Svetlogorsk was fined on June 25th for refusing to provide the name of a fellow Christian who happened to be reading from the Bible when armed police raided the church during a Sunday worship service. Other believers in the country of Belarus are facing similar forms of prosecution, including the owner of a home where members had gathered to worship. (For more about the challenges facing Christians in this country, go to the Belarus Country Report.)

Please uphold in prayer Pastor Nikolaenko, and others in Belarus who are facing much opposition for their faith, that they would sense God's peace and assurance throughout these trials. Pray that the publicized facts of each case will be used to raise awareness of their plight, thus garnering much needed prayer support from fellow Christians around the globe. As a result, may these persecuted believers be further strengthened in their walk with the Lord and even more determined to live wholeheartedly for Him. Also intercede for the citizens of Belarus who are in need of salvation -- including those in governmental authority -- asking that they be given an opportunity to hear the Gospel and come to faith in our Risen Saviour.

Country Information

Designation
Persecuted

Population
9,477,918 (July 2020 est.)

Religion (%)
Orthodox (48.3), Catholic (7.1), Other (3.5), None (41.1)

Ethnicity (%)
Belarusian (83.7), Russian (8.3), Polish (3.1), Ukrainian (1.7), other (2.4), unspecified (0.9)

Leader
President Aleksandr Lukashenko (1994)

Government type
Presidential republic in name, although in fact a dictatorship

Legal system
Civil law system.

Source: CIA World Factbook

Pray for Belarus

Pray for increased freedom of religion – not only indicated as mere written words in the country’s constitution but also demonstrated as a living reality in the lives of the oppressed believers. May there be a lifting of restraints on evangelical groups in their efforts to spread the Gospel and plant new churches.

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