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Snowy fields in Shklov
“Bela-what?!” That was my first response when I heard about the CBM work in Belarus. I have since found out that it is a landlocked country to the west of Russia and north of the Ukraine. A former soviet state, it is now run by a pseudo-democratic government and has a population of about 9.5 million. But the most important fact is that it is home to a small, scattered group of brothers and sisters.
In March I travelled to Belarus with Mark Whittaker and Luke Moss for a week to see our members there. We arrived in Minsk, the capital, and met with Yuri Podgaisky, who was to be our translator for the week. He is studying in one of the universities in Minsk and proved a fascinating mine of information about the history of Belarus.
The focal point of our visit was a Bible study weekend held in Minsk over Easter. We began the weekend with the daily readings, which proved interesting with some reading from the Russian Bible and some in English. The discussion was very lively and lasted for several hours, with the brothers and sisters clearly wanting to make the most of this opportunity for fellowship. The studies for the weekend, led by Luke, were on the last few verses of Hebrews 11, picking out some interesting character studies based on the people hinted at in these verses.
Further activities during the weekend included asking the brothers and sisters to act as guinea pigs to try out the new Russian translation of the 40 lesson correspondence course, which is primarily for contacts. To make things a bit more exciting we offered a prize for the best answers.
After the weekend we spent a few days travelling around the country to visit some of those brothers and sisters scattered throughout the country who had not been able to get to Minsk for the Bible Weekend. One of our visits found us arriving off an overnight train at 4 am to an hour’s walk. It was freezing cold and beginning to snow and we were much relieved when we arrived at Alla’s house to be ushered into beds. After a brief time with Alla, we moved on to our next destination, to visit Alexander and Natasha and their six boys. We were again welcomed off an overnight train at some unearthly hour of the morning, and spent a brief time with them talking and doing the daily readings and breaking bread.
|"Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation." (Mark 16:15)|