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Pastor Dmitry Podlobko preaching
Pastor Dmitry Podlobko
Photo: Living Faith Church via Forum 18

In October 2021, the Living Faith Church in Gomel, Belarus, was in need of a place to perform baptisms. Without the necessary facilities, the registered congregation gathered at a local river to hold the service. However, the law states that no religious activities are permitted to take place outside the approved facilities without prior authorization from the state. At the time, Pastor Dmitry Podlobko received an official warning, along with a fine.

On July 28th of this year, the church gathered for another baptismal service, this time at Pastor Dmitry's personal swimming pool. When the authorities heard about the event, the pastor was again fined. Upon being informed of his punishment, he decided not to appeal, saying, "There is no point." The concern is now whether the church will be facing another official warning. If a religious community in Belarus repeats a "violation" within one year, they can be stripped of their legal status.

Official authorization can be sought for public religious events outside of a congregation's approved facility. However, the process is both onerous and expensive. To receive approval, fees must be paid in advance for police, medical workers, cleaners, and other services that are supposedly needed, in order to hold the event. Even then, permission is often refused for any event not favoured by the authorities. For more information on the persecution encountered by Christians in Belarus, go to our country report.

Pray for greatly needed wisdom and guidance on behalf of Pastor Dmitry and his congregation as they determine the Lord's direction in the days to come. Also pray that this Christian community will not receive further penalties from the government's authorities. Amid the country's severe religious restrictions, may churches throughout Belarus receive opportunities to boldly reach out to others in need spiritually, sharing with them the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Country Information

Designation
Persecuted

Population
9,477,918 (July 2020 est.)

Religion (%)
Orthodox (48.3), Catholic (7.1), Other (3.5), None (41.1)

Ethnicity (%)
Belarusian (83.7), Russian (8.3), Polish (3.1), Ukrainian (1.7), other (2.4), unspecified (0.9)

Leader
President Aleksandr Lukashenko (1994)

Government type
Presidential republic in name, although in fact a dictatorship

Legal system
Civil law system.

Source: CIA World Factbook

Pray for Belarus

Pray for increased freedom of religion – not only indicated as mere written words in the country’s constitution but also demonstrated as a living reality in the lives of the oppressed believers. May there be a lifting of restraints on evangelical groups in their efforts to spread the Gospel and plant new churches.

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