WHY BELARUS?  In many ways, this country remains firmly embedded in its communist past.

Belarus means White Russia and was part of the Soviet Union from 1922-1991.  Although governed by a Prime Minister, many soviet ideals (especially those relating to religion) persist today. Even though they gained their independence after the fall of communism, their traditions and language have remained decidedly Russian. Today, the Belarussian constitution provides for freedom of religion. However, in reality, the government greatly restricts the right to practice by implementing a system whereby only state-run churches easily meet the requirements for registration. This means that Protestant churches are often forced to worship illegally and are under constant threat of stiff fines and/or imprisonment. Additionally, anti-evangelism laws make it very difficult to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ openly. Due to these strict statutes, SON is unable to bring teams or to work in Belarus. We instead, focus on supporting the indigenous missionaries in Belarus.

SON Mission partner, Pr. Valery Hryhoryk formed Belarus Lutheran Missionary Fellowship (BLMF) as a way to actively reach children, youth and families with the Gospel. Included in the many outreach activities of BLMF are: children’s camps, theological seminars, community care ministries, Christian book publishing and distribution, and a remarkable music ministry that engages the public through “spiritual songs” that point directly to the Grace, Mercy, and Love of Jesus Christ.

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Country Snapshot

Area: (slightly less than twice the size of Kentucky; slightly smaller than Kansas), total: 207,600 sq km (80,255 sq miles), land: 202,900 sq km (78,340 sq miles), water: 4,700 sq km (1,815 sq miles)

Population: 9,441,842 (July 2021 est.)

Population growth rate:  -0.29% (2021 est.)

Capital City: Minsk

Independence Day: 25 August 1991 (from the Soviet Union)

Ethnic Groups: Belarusian 83.7%, Russian 8.3%, Polish 3.1%, Ukrainian 1.7%, other 2.4%, unspecified 0.9%

Languages Spoken: Russian (official) 70.2%, Belarusian (official) 23.4%, other 3.1% (includes small Polish- and Ukrainian-speaking minorities), unspecified 3.3%

Life Expectancy at Birth: total population: 74.01 years / male: 68.6 years / female: 79.74 years (2021 est.)

Religious Groups:
Eastern Orthodox 48.3%
Catholic 7.1%%
other 3.5%
non-believers 41.1% (2011 est.)

SON’s Work in Belarus

Connecting Belarus to the Global Family

SON Partners: SON Mission Partner, Belarus Lutheran Missionary Fellowship (BLMF) founded and directed by Pastor Valery Hryhoryk. The current outreach of BLMF includes:

  • a small publishing house that produces high quality Christian books and materials for adults and children using
  • a government decree dictating that at least 70% of all music on the airwaves be produced by Belarusians, Pastor Valery formed Golden Gate, a band that plays music filled with messages of God’s Hope, Grace, and Love. Golden Gate has become so popular that they are now invited to participate in the country’s many music festivals, where they are able to engage people one-on-one.
  • inviting local youth into his garage, turned music studio/worship area, for music sessions. As relationships with these young people are formed, it is a natural progression to share the love of Jesus Christ and the life-saving news of the Gospel.
  • leading numerous youth camps and retreats in Belarus, and surrounding countries, where he helps kids work through life’s challenges and hardships using a biblical approach so that they can discover God’s true plan for their lives.

Where we work: Pastor Valery lives with his wife and son in Vitebsk but works all over Belarus.

What we do: Due to religion laws and the current political climate, SON is unable to take teams to Belarus, but we continue to raise awareness and support for BLMF so that they can continue to do the work that God has put before them.