Area: 207,600 sq km
Landlocked; fertile agricultural land with extensive forests on the North European plains. Surrounded by Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. Smallest of the three Slavic nations of the former USSR.
Population: 9,587,940 Annual Growth: -0.47%
Official language: Belarusian and Russian; the latter is more widely used Languages: 11 All languages
Largest Religion: Christian
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Orthodoxy and Catholicism enjoy privileged status as historic Slavic religious entities, but even these face limitations. Other denominations face opposition from the establishment.
a) The acceptance of Russian Orthodoxy by the state is in keeping with a traditional Slavic identity, and Orthodoxy remains largely a ritualistic entity for the purposes of baptising, marrying and burying. Renewal and reformation within the ancient confessions could potentially impact millions; pray for such to occur.
b) Religious movements face increasing pressure from government officials. These include Orthodox expressions that do not submit to the state-approved Moscow patriarchate (such as Old Believers, autocephalous and splinter Orthodox groups), Uniate Catholics, Protestants and groups such as Hare Krishna, Buddhists and pre-Christian pagans.
Evangelical Christians are increasing despite concerted opposition and intensifying persecution. The state steadfastly maintains laws that forbid meeting in homes for worship, forming congregations of less than 20 people, opening religious schools, ministering outside of the home city, and importing and distributing non-state-approved literature. All religious activity must receive state permission. All congregations are required to register; obstructionism in the registration process prevents many churches from meeting or growing. The inability to buy or rent property for worship is the biggest problem for evangelicals. Pray for:
a) Patient, overcoming faith for believers to withstand such difficulties. Evidence suggests that evangelicals are persisting, growing and finding ways to deal with these challenges.
b) Those in government who harass and persecute Gods Church, that they might (hopefully through believers) discover the truth of the gospel and the love of Christ.
c) Unity among the various evangelical groups different denominations, registered and unregistered churches. Pray for greater cooperation to replace mistrust in many denominations.
d) The emergence of a truly Belarusian evangelicalism, one that is culturally relevant and reflective of national character, one that allows for worship and ministry from an indigenous foundation. Evangelicals are usually perceived as agents of the West.
e) Training of new leaders. As the Church grows, the new post-Communist generation needs to be discipled and shaped according to biblical values. This must be done amid repressive laws that restrict meeting, training and education.
For an additional 6 Challenges for Prayer see Operation World book, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM.
The Operation World book, CD-ROM, and DVD-ROM provide far more information and fuel for prayer for the people of Belarus.