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Belarus & First Steps By Grant Edwards

26 August 2017 No Comment

When I first received an invitation to teach First Steps in Belarus, I thought, “Where is Belarus?”  After accepting the invitation to go to Belarus and telling people I was traveling to Belarus, I asked them, “Where is Belarus located.”  I quickly found that many Americans needed to review their geography as the answers were South Africa, Asia, next to Brazil and somewhere in Europe.

Answer: start at Russia and go east – Russia, Belarus, and then Poland.

I traveled to Belarus with my wife to teach First Steps the last week of July. Joining the team was a Russian translator that I use often named Mikail Kilin and Igor Sokolov, a pastor from St. Petersburg, who helped me teach First Steps.

I went to Belarus because two pastors from Belarus came to Springfield and asked Fellowship (the church where I pastor) to come to Belarus.  The pastors explained that they had a word from God on the need for “one on one” discipleship and then learned of First Steps from pastors in the St. Petersburg area.

The impact of this first conference was tremendous.  While Russia has been open to western influence with the gospel since the early 90’s, Belarus has opened in the last nine months.  My wife and I have received visas at passport control while entering the country through the airport in Minsk (the capital).

We were met at the airport by the Belarusian pastors and driven to Gomel which is the second largest city in Belarus.  Five churches had sent representatives to learn about First Steps.  Their reaction – please come back as soon as possible and we will have many more pastors attend.

Belarus is beautiful.  The country is clean with wonderful roads.  The buildings are kept nicely and there are many parks.  But travelling on the roads are few cars as the people don’t have cars.  And while the country is clean and well run, the young people are leaving the country to find jobs.

Christianity is met with resistance.  Churches are legal if they have at least 20 people and join a legitimate union of churches.  But to meet for any religious reason in groups up to 20 people is illegal with the penalties including loss of job, loss of apartment, and even prison.  The churches that we were working with take 20 people and send them out to start a church. In following this plan, they now have 486 churches.

The pastors that I met were overwhelming in a request.  They want another conference.  A President of a seminary in Minsk wants First Steps taught at the Bible college.

There are many open doors in Belarus; miracles happen frequently; people are saved in revival numbers.  They are asking us to return!

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