Okay, here’s a test; you have 30 seconds to answer. No cheating! Without looking at an atlas, tell me where the Republic of Belarus is located. Did you answer correctly? Without referring to an atlas, I’ll bet many of you didn’t know where Belarus is.
However, if you’ve been turned in to international news the past few months, I’ll bet most of you know where the nation of Ukraine is located. Belarus is immediately north of Ukraine. When you read this issue of “The Traveler,” I will be on my way to the Republic of Belarus on a short-term mission trip throughout most of August.
Belarus is a small nation in east-central Europe about the size of Kansas, with a population of approximately 11,000,000 people. It was not even a nation until the former USSR formed it in 1954.
After the breakup of the USSR in 1989, Belarus retained its sovereignty as a separate nation, although it remains tightly “connected” to Russia. The government is oppressive and controlling. Most of the people are poor, with very high inflation.
Belarus is still the most “hard-line” Communist style government remaining after the fall of the USSR. There is a lot of secrecy, repression, and oppression. The Belarus government remains suspicious of much evangelical Christian activity, especially from outsiders coming into the country.
The Chernobyl Disaster
When the Chernobyl nuclear power plant blew up in neighboring Ukraine in 1986, the Soviet government moved entire villages of people from Ukraine to Belarus. Much of the radiation fallout “cloud” from Chernobyl drifted over Belarus, and parts of Belarus are still highly radioactive, causing much sickness and many illnesses. There is widespread cancer, numerous birth defects, crowded orphanages, and much suffering and anguish.
China or Belarus?
Until late last year, I believed strongly that God wanted me to return to China to teach and minister in that great nation this summer. I was wrong! I’m still hoping to return to China in 2015 and am already making preliminary plans to go. My heart has been in China since I was a child and I love the Chinese people.
I won’t bore you with a long story, but God began to bring Belarus to my attention last December. Frankly—like many of you—I didn’t know much about Belarus . . . even though I used to teach world geography. I simply had some sort of vague notion it was a small nation somewhere in Europe next to Russia.
By means of many things I began reading, by people “prophesying” to me, by God “speaking” to me from the Bible, and by various other means, I slowly sorted out what God was attempting to tell me and finally, by about mid-February I knew God wanted me to go to Belarus. On February 18th, I surrendered to God and told Him I would go to Belarus.
I then made contact with Perry and Joyce Haupt, a husband and wife from Pennsylvania, who founded Mission Belarus, and have been planting churches in Belarus for 16 years, and also assisting the poor and children in orphanages. I will be in Belarus for almost the entire month of August.
I will be speaking, teaching, preaching, and ministering in some churches that have already been planted, visiting and ministering in an orphanage, working with Vacation Bible Schools, and helping to plant two new churches in villages near the southern border of Belarus. We will also be providing humanitarian aid including food, clothing, shoes, vitamins, and medicine as needed—as well as much-needed Bibles.
From the time I first announced early this year that I would be ministering in Belarus this month, I’ve received some interesting responses from a number of people. First, the majority of people who responded have been positive and encouraging, stating they will be praying for me and the people of Belarus. A substantial number of people have contributed financially to help pay for the mission. Oddly enough, however, there have been a large number of people who have told me I shouldn’t go, that it is too dangerous, that I am being foolish at my age; some even said they wouldn’t pray for me if I did such a foolish thing!
For those of you who have contributed financially for me to go to Belarus, I want you to know God has abundantly provided beyond anything I could ask or think! Thank you to all of you who have generously contributed. All contributions above my actual expenses will be prayerfully distributed to the needy while I’m in Belarus . . . and, believe me, there are many, many needs.
Sometime in early to mid-September I will furnish a complete report to all those who have contributed financially to Mission Belarus.
Pray For Belarus
- Pray for my safe passage in and out of Belarus and for much needed medical and humanitarian aid and supplies I’ll be taking in.
- Pray for Bibles and other Bible-based literature we plan to distribute throughout Belarus.
- Pray for the spiritual growth and maturity of believers in the churches already planted in Belarus.
- Pray for new Jesus believers in the new churches we will be planting.
- Pray for the many needs of the orphans in the orphanage where we’ll be ministering.
- Pray for supernatural strength and stamina for me; my schedule while in Belarus might be quite rigorous and arduous; you may not believe this, but I’m not as young as I was a few decades ago!
- Pray for my teaching and preaching (through a translator)—that it will be clear, well received, and used by God to help transform the lives of many Belarussians.
- Pray for the protection and safety of all Jesus believers in Belarus, many of whom are being persecuted and harassed because of their faith in Jesus.
Noted below are two biblical references that are foundational to my own life and which God has told me to emphasize while in Belarus:
“God is altogether good and absolutely everything He does is good.” –Psalm 119: 68
“God’s amazing grace has been clearly revealed to all humankind [including all in Belarus] and teaches us to change from living self-centered, self-absorbed lives to living lives that are God-centered and pleasing to Him.” –the Apostle Paul, Titus 2: 11 and 12
To think about this month:
“Go to the entire world [including Belarus] and tell everyone the Good News about what God has done for all humankind through Jesus! “ –Mark 16: 15
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Revised and Updated November 2020