The Future Leadership Foundation taught biblical principles of finance and Christian stewardship during a recent trip to Belarus.
Randy Shipman, Terry Spickert, Doug Kaylor, Emerson Swope and Brad Dixon taught Crown Finance materials to churches in the different regions of Belarus. James Smith taught in the Baptist Seminary in Minsk.
Ken Enloe, who traveled to Belarus on several previous occasions, served as trip leader.
The biggest challenge with such a trip is dealing with preliminary issues, Enloe said. Since Belarus has closed its borders, Enloe worked to secure visas and gather information on what team members could and could not bring into the country.
Once the group made it to Belarus, Enloe continued to Luthuania to investigate future missions opportunities.
“I felt that our group inherited a great deal of the good will that had been created by Missouri Baptist people and churches in the 1990s and early part of this century,” said Dixon. “All of us were asked, ‘Do you know _______?’ Or, ‘can you contact the church/pastor/people that helped us before, so that we can tell them how we are doing?’ Several of us brought letters and gifts from Belarus to pass on to people and churches in Missouri.”
This was Dixon’s third trip to Belarus. He visited the country in 1995 and 1997. “My impression is that Belarus is more prosperous, with many cars on the streets and roads, a great availability of products in the stores and a greater ability for people to have stand-alone houses as homes,” Dixon said.
“But it also appears that there is less freedom than there was in the mid-1990s, with the government attempting to control everything about business, and making it difficult for private businesses to make a profit.”
Enloe agreed that Belarus continues to face challenges. “The government, in the last year or two, has grown more restrictive and oppressive,” he said.
“The president and government officials are clamping down, creating more obstacles and barriers for the churches. But I am always challenged by the believers’ faith in the face of adversity. They are going to do what they have to do. It is humbling for me, personally.”
Enloe urges others to take advantage of opportunites to participate in international mission trips. “There is so much we take for granted,” he said. International trips can “truly transform your perspective and give new ideas how to live out your faith.”
A pastor of a rural mid-Missouri church speaks of the spirit of family and cooperation that is a part of the local faith experience. This video is part of a series on rural churches by Columbia Faith & Values, produced in 2013.
How much influence has your faith been shaped by rural churches?