Belarus
Republic of Belarus
February 28
Europe


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GEOGRAPHY

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 Ann.Gr. Density
2000 10,236,181 -0.30% 49 per sq. km.
2010 9,973,382 -0.22% 48 per sq. km.
2025 9,495,683 -0.39% 46 per sq. km.

Capital Minsk 1,862,000. Urbanites 65%.

PEOPLES

Slav 98.8%. Belarusian 6,715,000; Russian 3,265,000; Ukrainian 133,000.

All other peoples 1.2%.

Literacy 97.9%. Official languages Belarusian and Russian; many are more fluent in the latter. All indigenous languages 2. Languages with Scriptures 2Bi.

ECONOMY

A strong agricultural and industrial base. The failure to change Soviet economic structures has fuelled inflation, hindered foreign investment and crippled economic development. Economic decline has been even worse than that of Russia and Ukraine. The dire consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster still massively impact the Belarusian economy and health services. HDI 0.763; 60th/174. Public debt 3% of GNP. Income/person $2150 (6.8% of USA).

POLITICS

A separate member of the UN since WWII, but Belarus had never been an independent state until 1991. Political leadership still clings to the autocratic Communist past and has alienated many foreign powers with its xenophobia and aggressive stance. The government continues to press for Belarus to be included in the Russian Federation.

RELIGION

The religious freedom of the post-Communist era seems to be fading. Christianity of all stripes has flourished in recent years, although the dominant Orthodox Church seeks to restrict the activities of other Christian groups. Protestant churches are refused building permits in the cities.

Religions Population % Adherents Ann.Gr.
Christian 78.70 8,055,874 +1.0%
non-Religious/other 20.20 2,067,709 -4.1%
Jewish 1.00 102,362 -1.5%
Muslim 0.10 10,236 -8.6%

Christians Denom. Affil.% ,000 Ann.Gr.
Protestant 17 1.58 162 +5.9%
Independent 2 0.91 93 +0.3%
Catholic 3 13.19 1,350 +0.8%
Orthodox 2 48.71 4,986 +0.8%
Marginal 1 0.08 8 +7.8%
Unaffiliated   14.23 1,457 n.a.

Churches MegaBloc Cong. Members Affiliates
Russian Orthodox O 799 2,797,203 4,000,000
All Catholics [3] C 400 808,383 1,350,000
Pentecostal – unregistered P 462 37,000 74,000
Old Believers I 30 37,662 58,000
Pentecostal Union P 510 22,000 44,000
Fringe Orthodox [3] I 23 22,727 35,000
Evang Chr Baptist Union P 232 11,848 23,696
Seventh-day Adventist P 60 7,000 9,100
Jehovah's Witnesses M 24 2,402 8,000
Other denoms [15]   211 595,687 996,734
Total Christians [26]   2,751 4,341,000 6,599,000

Trans-bloc Groupings pop.% ,000 Ann.Gr.
Evangelical 1.5 150 +5.8%
Charismatic 1.3 135 +6.2%
  Pentecostal 1.2 118 +7.0%

Missionaries from Belarus
P,I,A 14 in 5 agencies.

Missionaries to Belarus
P,I,A 82 in 16 agencies from 9 countries. USA 44, Belarus 13, UK 6, Korea 4, Argentina 4. C 250. M 10.



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Challenges for Prayer

1 Belarus stumbled into an unexpected independence and is still searching for a national identity. Progress is crippled by the lack of political and economic freedom needed for growth. Pray for true democratic and religious freedom.

2 The cultural dominance of Poland and Russia lasted for many centuries. Pray for a truly indigenous expression of Belarusian Christianity to be developed and then spread using all methods: church services, theological education, literature, broadcasting.

3 The Chernobyl catastrophe in 1986 occurred in the Ukraine, but affected Belarus most severely. The environmental, economic, and psychological impact of the nuclear fallout has since devastated the country. Twenty-five percent of the land area – much of it formerly productive agricultural land – is considered uninhabitable. Radiation-related health problems still occur at 80 times the global average. Pray that in this climate of despair God may use believers as ministers of restoration and hope.

4 The post-Communist honeymoon with religion is ending. While the Orthodox Church enjoys privileged status as a Slavic religious entity, other denominations are experiencing opposition from the establishment. While many call themselves Christian, there is still a great need for renewal within the large Orthodox and Catholic structures. Pray for the Holy Spirit to sweep through Belarus, bringing people to personal faith in Christ.

5 Evangelical Christians are increasing despite low-level persecution. Pray that the various evangelical groups – different denominations, registered and unregistered churches – might be able to work together in unity. The inability of Evangelicals to use public buildings for church meetings and the forbidding of public evangelism hampers growth. Pray for:

a) The governmental and social pressure against any evangelism by believers to be lifted.

b) The cultural bias against evangelical Christianity to be overcome by Spirit-led sharing of the gospel.

c) Training of the hundreds of Belarusians in full- or part-time ministry. Ask the Lord to raise up bold and godly leaders to guide the church in His steps.

d) Greater cooperation to replace the mistrust between many denominations.

6 Missions. Belarus has received far less attention from missions than her Slavic neighbors, Russia and the Ukraine. Pray that the Lord might call more people to serve long-term in this needy land. Pray that Western missionaries in Belarus might have a sensitive and humble spirit, working as servants with the local churches. Pray for a spirit of wisdom in ministering which avoids drawing negative attention from hostile authorities and the media.

7 The less evangelized. There are some significant non-Christian minorities:

a) Jews. Nearly 50,000 Jews live in Minsk, but many are emigrating. There is a Messianic Jewish group in Minsk, but the majority still need to be reached.

b) Muslims. Small communities of Azeris and Tatars exist. Diverse Muslim immigrants are moving illegally into the most contaminated regions of the country, and have little chance to hear the gospel.

8 Christian help ministries for prayer:

a) The Bible Society (UBS) has found a widespread desire for the Bible and Children's Bibles in both official languages. Thousands are being distributed, and a new Belarusian New Testament has been commissioned in cooperation with the Orthodox Church.

b) Christian literature needs to be made more available. CLC has a presence in the country, but more solid evangelistic and teaching material needs to be translated into Belarusian and then distributed throughout the country.

c) EHC has reached every home, with millions receiving Christian tracts.

d) The JESUS film has been seen by most of the population in Belarusian or Russian. Resources for follow-up are still too limited to help all who are touched.

e) TWR has established a local base for programme production. They are also broadcasting into the country in both major languages.


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