Since purchasing a former cowshed in 2002 and converting it into a church building, the New Life Church in Minsk, Belarus, has faced opposition from government agencies.
After years of court battles, officials accompanied by bailiffs forcefully entered the place of worship on 17 February, evicting church members from the building.
Since the congregation no longer had a building in which to meet, the members immediately began gathering in the church’s adjacent parking lot; something they have been doing for more than six months – even throughout the cold winter season. However, government officials are now warning Pastor Goncharenko that such meetings must cease or he will face prosecution. The sentence for organising and participating in illegal meetings can be up to four years of imprisonment.
Despite the warnings, the pastor insists that the church will continue to meet.
Letters to the church allege that neighbouring residents have complained about noise from the outdoor meetings. However, the church states that they have only received a complaint once, after which they immediately turned down the volume of their speakers. In consideration, they have also adjusted their meeting times to take place around midday to ensure that the surrounding neighbourhood is awake.
Although the city has offered the New Life Church two alternate places to rent, one building is too small to accommodate the large size of the growing church, and the other is too expensive and a considerable distance away.
Please pray that Pastor Goncharenko and the other leaders of the New Life Church will be granted wisdom and guidance as they seek ways in which they can honour the Lord and minister in the community.
Pray these believers’ interactions with the authorities demonstrate the love and grace of God.
Pray for His blessings upon this growing church, providing them with the resources required to teach and disciple their congregants while reaching out to their community.
Source: Voice of the Martyrs AU, Forum18
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