Population: 9.5 million (2014)
Official language: Belarusian, Russian
Major religion: Russian Orthodoxy
The Belarus government has imposed some restrictions on freedom of speech and religion. All religious activities at educational institutions are considered to be illegal, but Protestant Christians are experiencing the most pressure from the government. It is illegal in Belarus to read the Bible in student dormitories, although you are allowed to do so in church buildings.
The Belarus government disapproves of partnerships between national and foreign organisations. People with Orthodox and Soviet backgrounds also consider Protestant institutions to be cults. There is no strongly developed evangelical community in the country, although partnerships between IFES Belarus and Belarusian churches are developing. Despite all the barriers, God is working in student hearts in Belarus and the student movement is growing.
Students in Belarus
- 11 cities and towns have accredited universities; 5 major universities in Minsk
- 300,000 students in total, 100,000 in Minsk
- small graduates group
- largest student group has 15 people, the average size is about 7-10 people
The greatest strength of student groups is the discipleship relationships within them. One of the main challenges of working with students is the lack of a leadership initiative. There is also the need for a clear vision of how to involve students more so that they will own the ministry. Financial limitations prevent working with more students.
View from the inside
A friend of ours is involved with student work in Belarus. She says, ‘for me it is a great privilege to be part of this student ministry. It is so exciting to see how God is working in the heart of students and how they are growing in their faith. We are a tool in the hands of our great Master but He uses us to change the world by changing one student at a time. Praise God for that!
‘He is doing much more than we can imagine: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever (Eph. 3:20-21).”’
- for the fruit of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of non-Christian students who have been attending events this academic year;
- for God to show church leaders the importance of supporting Christian students;
- for summer projects to be fruitful in the spiritual growth of Christian student leaders;
- for new staff workers and the wisdom they need to accomplish the work.