It may take you a moment to find Belarus on a map, but it’s a European country you’ll likely be hearing a lot more about. That’s because of its strategic position between Russia and the West.
As the U.S. government works to improve relations between the countries, American Christians are working to change the hearts of the nation’s top leaders.
‘Last Dictator of Europe’
When you drive into the Belorussian capital of Minsk, it’s hard to imagine the modern city was once part of the Soviet Union.
It’s practically been rebuilt after just one neighborhood survived the ravages of WWII. In fact, Belarus lost more of its people in the war per capita than any other country.
However, remnants of its communist past remain.
A statue of Vladimir Lenin stands guard in front of Parliament, and Belarus is the only former Soviet country to keep the name of the the KGB, the world’s most notorious security machine.
The nation is ruled by Alexander Lukashenko, who’s been called the “Last Dictator of Europe.” Nearly a decade ago, he kicked out the U.S. ambassador.
While the relationship between the countries remains tense, there are signs that Lukashenko, motivated by Russia’s aggressions in nearby Ukraine, is warming to the West.
In May, members of the U.S. military marched past Lukashenko alongside Belorussia’s military to commemorate the Nazi surrender to the Soviet Union in WWII. It was a public show of unity just weeks before a U.S. congressman made history by accepting an invitation to speak to Parliament.
“I think what we’re doing here today is checking each other out to see if there is a potential for a relationship,” Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., said in a speech to the Belorussian Senate.
The Republican’s congressional credentials cleared the way for him to deliver his speech. But for Pearce, his visit to Parliament was a missions trip.
“I go to churches many times and I tell them, ‘My friends, you have locked the doors and we have been inside singing hymns and praises to each other. The problems are outside the locked doors. If you want your faith to grow, then go out there and work with the problems,'” Pearce told CBN News in an exclusive interview.
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SOURCE: CBN News