Belarusians visit, learn from The Baptist Home staff and residents - Word&Way

Belarusians visit, learn from The Baptist Home staff and residents

Arcadia Valley — Baptists in Belarus moved another step closer to launching residential care with a site visit to The Baptist Home's corporate office and Arcadia Valley campus.

Braving cold conditions and ice-sheathed highways, four Baptist representatives spent a couple of December days visiting The Home's residents and touring the facilities.

Belarusian Baptists are renovating a building at Kobrin Camp to use as a retirement facility for the elderly. The ministry is the fulfillment of the vision Stepan Trubchik, a member of the Kobrin Church, has had for more than 10 years.

The four Belarusians — Vladimir Melyakov, Belarusian Baptist president Nicholay Sinkovets, Kobrin Camp director Vanya Hritsiuta and Trubchik — eagerly followed Arcadia Valley administrator Sherri Snyder through the halls. Trubchik even favored residents with tunes on the accordion.

The Belarusians also peppered their Missouri hosts with numerous questions about staffing, administration and care.

TBH staffers shared related documents and offered to have some of them translated into Russian for the visitors.

"We did have a good visit," noted The Home's development and communications director Jim Nelson. "They were very interested in what we were doing. They asked a lot of good questions about the ministry."

The Belarusians' site visit came as a result of a fact-finding trip Nelson and TBH trustee Margaret Woolley made to Belarus in July.

On Sept. 12, TBH trustees voted to assist Belarusian Baptists to open a home for the aged. Board members agreed to a five-year commitment to the Baptist House of Mercy. They authorized a $500,000 capital campaign to raise funds for the project. Up to $250,000 will be used to renovate the building, with the remainder to become an endowment fund.

Baptist leaders in Belarus determined that the Kobrin site would be the most appropriate place for the ministry in spite of extensive renovations the chosen building would require. The Belarusian government has tightened control on religious expression, particularly in the last year. But the government already recognizes the camp's use for religious and humanitarian purposes.

In addition, Missouri Baptists helped outfit a medical clinic on campus during the 10-year partnership between the Baptist Union of Belarus and the Missouri Baptist Convention that ended in 2003. Several Missouri churches and individuals continue to support the camp and its ministry to children. (01-11-07)