Stoneworks partners with a Christian charity, Spring of Revival (SOR), serving orphans in Belarus. Olga and I were very glad to make our first trip to visit them recently. Spring of Revival is directed by Olga Goncharenko, who I first met when she worked as an interpreter with American teams in Russian summer camps several years ago.
Pictured above is Olga (right center), with her sister Olyesa (left center) and two orphans they hope to house in a transition home we are hoping to establish in Minsk. The baby is Olga’s youngest child Stephanie (she’s a cutie!).
Belarus has been called the last dictatorship in Europe. While the country is clean and orderly, we also felt the chill of government restrictions. For instance, a law was recently passed banning the discussion of the current world economic crisis.
People are under threat of arrest if they are overheard mentioning the crisis, so we had to be careful of what we said in public places.
Also, a law was passed that there may only be one president in the country; no person other than the president of Belarus may have the title president. So, every organization in the country had to change it’s charter so that leaders would be called chairman or director, anything but president.
In this environment, SOR faces serious threats to shut down their work. For example, for several years they have been sending orphans on trips to other countries, but the government just last week revoked their license to do so saying they had ‘broken the law’, even though no proof was given of any laws being broken.
They have faced other forms of pressure and the government has used underhanded ways to try and close them down. I was glad to be there to talk through some of the issues and give and receive encouragement.
We are helping SOR find ways to have secure communication as well as other opportunities for partnership in ministry. We are looking for ways for MIR and Spring of Revival to partner together.
It was great to meet Olga’s family, her husband Yasha is a great guy, and attend their church (which is also under attack). We visited several ministry sites where SOR has been faithfully serving for many years.
God continues to bring life and joy in the midst of the threats and attacks, friendly faces in challenging country.