Belarus Church Persecution
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The fasting and hunger strike began Oct. 5 at New Life Church on the outskirts of the capital city Minsk. Believers from many other congregations have joined the protest.
And the church's website – in both Russian and English – has been presenting daily updates on the status of the strike.
The church has faced a lot since 2001. They have taken an old cow barn and turned it into a modern house of worship for a thousand parishioners. They sent numerous formal requests to city officials for acknowledgment of their rights.
The church has also faced harassment from uniformed and plainclothes police on their property. Pastor Slava Goncharenko has appeared made appeals in court in to plead the justice of their situation. The church has staged peaceful protests of exorbitant fines levied by the city of Minsk.
The bottom line: The city will take the property and pay the church 17,000 – a fraction of its value in what most observers are calling theft.
Yet there is a sign of progress. Pastor Goncharenko was called in for an unprecedented meeting with a federal official of the Lukashenko government on Tuesday.
While the government has suggested it will make concessions, it has not yet agreed to restore the church's property or religious rights. So the strike continues.
The pastor is appealing to all Christians.
“Brothers, we ask you, to pray for us, stand together with us now in this tense and difficult time,” he said. “Also you can write letters of support for us to the administration of President Lukashenko. This could be done from individuals or churches.”
Whatever the outcome of the hunger strike, Christians in Belarus say that their efforts will produce more religious liberty and more freedom for all nation's citizens.
Read Gailon’s Blog on how to help Belarus’s Christians.