Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Act Today to Stop Persecution of New Life (Pentecostal) Church, Minsk, Belarus

Members of New Life Church are joined in an outdoor rally 21 October by 2000 residents of Minsk and numerous other towns of Belarus, as well as by Christians from Moscow and Saint Petersburg, Russia. New Life members have decided to start legislative work with participation of representatives of interested governmental bodies and religious organizations to overturn the repressive 2002 legislation that limits religious freedom. I believe we are witnessing yet another people-power movement toward widespread civil freedom in another former Soviet republic. May God grant them full success!

See What God Can Do with Your Voice

Goal: 100 faxed letters to Belarus ambassador this week

One appeal for each ten members of New Life Church

1. Read the October 17 report (updates here). See the PowerPoint presentation of the church founded in 1992 by the son of an imprisoned Pentecostal pastor. Then, below, see the sample letter to the Belarus ambassador.
2. Pray for God’s victory through this persecution, and then
3. Write and fax your letter today: (202) 986-1805.
4. Copy me with your letter, or simply tell me you’ve sent it. Click on the e-mail (envelope) icon at the bottom of the blog to respond. I will update the blog as results are reported.

Thank you for joining this effort to advance religious freedom and the gospel with your prayer and letter of protest and appeal. Today your voice counts more than ever before: Davids are defeating Goliaths.


October 17, 2006

The Honorable Mikhail Khvostov
Ambassador, Respublika Byelarus'
1619 New Hampshire Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20009
TEL: (202) 986-1604
FAX: (202) 986-1805

Dear Mr. Ambassador:

I wish your country much prosperity, peace, and freedom.

However, I have learned how unjustly your government treats the New Life Church of Minsk; and I am so deeply disturbed that I am writing to you and – until your government stops its injustice – seeking to swell a worldwide corps of eyes and voices to show the world how Respublika Byelarus’, a United Nations member, systematically defies its obligation to honor religious freedom, as expressed in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN, 1948): namely,

The right to believe, to worship and witness
The right to change one's belief or religion
The right to join together and express one's belief.

I send with this letter a report by the World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission (17 October 2006). It documents these injustices of your government:

· continuously denying New Life Church’s (NLC) attempts to register with the state
· obstructing NLC’s efforts to rent a meeting place
· harassing NLC’s renovation and use of its building to meet for worship
· for Article-18-protected religious activities, fining Pastor Goncharenko multiple times and threatening church administrator Yurevich with prosecution
· refusing NLC’s request to change its building’s official designation
· forcing unjust sale of NLC’s property at about 1/35th of its true value
· denying doctors’ and nurses’ visits to hunger strikers in NLC.

As you know, starting Friday, 6 October, and continuing into an eleventh day today, a growing number of productive Belarus citizens who are also members of NLC have moved into its house of worship and are protesting these government injustices through a determined hunger strike. They are successfully focusing world attention on this tragic fact: Respublika Byelarus’ denies its citizens the universal right of religious freedom.

Mr. Ambassador, please appeal to your government to stop the injustice immediately and to demonstrate with consistent public actions that it sincerely promotes religious freedom and cooperates with – rather than hinders – the religious activities of NLC. If it does not begin doing justice in these matters, I and many like me will increase our efforts to publicize worldwide your government’s injustice; and Respublika Byelarus’ will receive much negative attention. But if your government will promote religious freedom and cooperate with NLC, I and many like me will be happy to help Byelarus receive positive attention worldwide.

As a Christian, I know that the leaders and members of NLC seek only the good of your country. Our faith teaches us to respect our leaders and to pray for them. New Life Church is no threat to any government that seeks to do justice and to serve the good of its citizens. If your government will cooperate with NLC, it will see what benefit this church will bring to Minsk and even to the country as a whole.

My wish for your country’s prosperity, peace, and freedom is sincere. But it can be fulfilled only as your government treats NLC and other religious bodies justly – that is, through sincerely respecting their freedom to believe, worship, and witness to their faith without government opposition.


Rev. Mark E. Roberts, Ph.D. †
Publisher, Word & Spirit Press

1 comment:

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