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Mini Bible School and visits in Belarus

Members at the Bible study weekend in Minsk

In Minsk

The aim of the week’s visit was to hold a Bible School Weekend in Minsk for the members, and then to visit those who could not make it (through health, poverty, isolation or other responsibilities) for fellowship, breaking of bread, and to help out with welfare matters.

Studies were given on ‘People Jesus knew’ and ‘An Introduction to Ezekiel’, but, as usual, by far the most animated aspect of the weekend was the readings session, when everyone joined in with questions and answers. This is probably the most useful part of these weekends, when the brothers and sisters discuss scripture between themselves, and it’s good to see those with better scriptural knowledge and understanding helping those with less to grow in understanding. The fellowship is also invaluable, as a number of those present are almost completely isolated apart from these events – it’s their spiritual lifeline.

Following the Bible School, we travelled first south-west to Baranovichi, to visit our sisters Larisa and Irina (cousins), with Irina’s son Maxim. Health problems had kept them away from the weekend study, so they were glad when we could visit them at home. Larisa lives 10 yards from the main railway line (but claims not to notice the trains thundering by) and her house can only be reached by walking half a mile through woodland. It was lovely for us to do this on a warm September afternoon, but imagine it in deep winter, when the snow is deep and temperature is below –20 C. Larisa raises chickens in a shed beside the house to help support herself and her children, and to pay for hospital treatment that she regularly undergoes. It was agreed that the next monthly Breaking of Bread meeting would be held at her home, as an alternative to Minsk. There are five brothers and sisters in Baranovichi, so this arrangement is very useful.

From Baranovichi we headed to the far south to Luninets, to visit Alexander and Natasha Kozlovskij, who were moved there by the government, away from the Chernobyl fallout zone. Even so, they’ve had a constant string of health problems over the years arising from that tragedy, including a son born deaf. Alexander’s own health is now improving, but is still not well enough for him to work full time, though work in Luninets itself is virtually non-existent anyway – the only factory is soon to close. We broke bread with Alexander and Natasha, who have their hands full with six boys to look after aged between 3 and 11. We hope to help the family move nearer Minsk in the future, where work may be possible to come by, and it will put them much nearer specialist treatment for Sasha, their deaf son, which can only be found in the capital.

All in all, a busy visit and one in which we were able to encourage the brothers and sisters and share fellowship with those who are isolated. We hope that by these regular visits we can help to strengthen the faith of our brothers and sisters, and remind them that they are not alone in their walk in Christ.

Mark Whittaker
From The Bible Missionary no. 183 October 2006

Information about Belarus