Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine update

Visits to Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine take place usually outside of the winter months, since travelling around at those times of year can be very difficult. This means that visits would normally start no earlier than March and finish by late October/early November. As a result of this, the Covid-19 pandemic had the effect of completely upending all plans for visits to these countries during 2020, such that none were able to take place.

Countries where Russian is the sole state language, one of state languages, has official status, etc.

Out of adversity have come some benefits, however, as brothers and sisters with access to some technology were motivated by the Covid19 restrictions on movement and meeting up to start meeting others on zoom. A small meeting, created by Russians living in Montenegro was supported by CBM to have a paid-for zoom account and invitations were sent to all brothers and sisters across the Russian-speaking countries, asking if they would like to join in regular breaking of bread meetings online. This practice has continued every week since it got underway in the spring of 2020 and has been added to by mid-week readings sessions and occasional lectures online. In the absence of visits from the UK to these 4 countries, therefore, an online community spreading from South Belarus right across to Siberia and Kazakhstan has sprung up, providing much-needed fellowship and support in difficult times.
In addition to this activity, the ecclesia in Siberia met online each week for a number of months, and individuals have also tuned into UK meetings throughout the year. Kazakh brothers and sisters have also been able to meet online together in small numbers too.

With God’s blessing we hope to be able to make visits once again later in 2021, especially to see those who have not had the option of joining others on the internet during 2020, and so have been cut off from all but postal or telephone contact.

Mark Whittaker

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