Belarus arrests pastor for holding church services in his apartment

Belarus (MNN) -- The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe is concerned elections in Belarus won't be free after the detention of four local election observers and a candidate for president. This overshadowed another event, the arrest and conviction of Pastor Georgi Viazovski (gohr-gee vih-ZAWV-skee) for holding church services in his home, which violates a new law.

Vice President of Russian Ministries' Sergey Rakhuba says, "This regulation says you cannot conduct any religious activity outside of the church walls. In this case this church cannot have (its) own facility. And, because they simply wanted to have Bible studies and worship, they were gathering at the pastor's home, and for that he was imprisoned."

Rakhuba grew up in the former Soviet Union. He believes the goal is to make churches illegal in Belarus. "It all brings memories back from 70's and the beginning of 80's. I've heard all of this. They try using direct slander."

Rakhuba says they're telling people that Baptists need to be sent back to the United States because they're all spies, envoys of President Bush, sent to Belarus to brain-wash the poor, take their money and invest in their ministries back in the States.

In reality, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, dubbed the "last dictator in Europe," has taken a hard-line approach fearing a Ukrainian-like revolution. "President Lukashenko took all the preventive steps trying to block everybody. Last week they raided 72 non-government organizations and all of them were announced as pro-American or western spies."

This harsh treatment means one thing for Russian Ministries, says Rakhuba. "It means that we have to train people harder. We have to continue supporting them, especially in Belarus and while we're working with the church, through the church, for the church we are training the next generation of church leaders that would continue boldly spreading the Gospel."

If you'd like to support a young church leader in training, go to Russian Ministries' website.