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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

THIS BLOG HAS MOVED TO www.timeintheword.org

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Hebrews 13:3 - Pastor Georgi Viazovski

I received this update from my friend Steve Owens in the UK and wanted to pass it on:

Remember the prisoners as if chained with them- those who are mistreated- since you yourselves are in the body also' (Heb 13:3 ).

Situation of Pastor Georgi Viazovski

Pastor Georgi Viazovski is the pastor of Christ's Covenant Reformed Baptist Church in Minsk, Belarus. The church was established in March 1994 and has 35 members. The fellowship meet in a prayer house which is officially designated as a residential building.

Pastor Viazovski is known to many in the UK, having trained in pastoral theology from 1992-94 at the London Reformed Baptist Seminary, and having worshipped with the Metropolitan Tabernacle in central London. His training and his own stance emphasises personal religion and morality as opposed to any form of political activism.

Prison Sentence
On Friday 3 March Pastor Viazovski was sentenced to a ten -day prison term for conducting religious worship in a 'private home' (in breach of Administrative Violations Code Article 167-1, part 1). This is the first time in twenty years that religious worship has incurred a prison sentence in Belarus. He was released on 13 March, but is presumably likely to be re-arrested as soon as he resumes his ministry. As the first Christian prisoner in Belarus since the end of the Soviet era, and a citizen of a country which upholds freedom of religion, does his imprisonment mark an end of such freedom?

Pastor Georgi had previously been found guilty of a similar offence on 24 November 2005. On that occasion he was issued with a warning. Police visited his church on 5 February 2006, interrupting worship and taking photographs. He was summoned to appear in court on 3 March. It was widely expected that he would be sentenced to a fine at this hearing since this has been the pattern with similar cases in Belarus. The custodial sentence came as a great shock to the church and to other independent Baptist churches in the country.

Registration of Churches
Pastor Georgi's fellowship had tried to obtain re-registration under the 2002 religion law.

Although the majority of churches have been granted re-registration their application was rejected.

Request for Help
Pastor Viazovski has asked for prayer and also that concerned friends write to the Belarus authorities on behalf of his fellowship. The addresses of the Belarus Embassy in London and Washington is shown below. Letters should be typed, and if writers have significant positions in employment and possess university degrees these should be referred to as they are taken account of by Belarus officials. The tone of letters should not be hostile.

In the UK:
His Excellency, Dr Alyaksei Mazhukhou
Ambassador of the Republic of Belarus, Belarus Embassy
6 Kensington Court, London W8 5DL

In the US:
His Excellency, H.E. Mikhail Khvostov
Ambassador of the Republic of Belarus, Belarus Embassy
1619 New Hampshire Avenue., N.W.
Washington, DC 20009



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