By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent
(Worthy News) - Belarus has detained a Christian missionary as part of a massive crackdown on those deemed dangerous to the government, Christians told Worthy News.
The woman, identified only as Maria due to security concerns, was reportedly detained on July 11, according to Christians familiar with the case. She and her husband Ivan lead a “ministry center in Belarus,” confirmed advocacy group Voice of the Martyrs Canada (VOMC).
“Government agents traveling in black vans arrived at their home and took her away. At last report, no formal charges have been laid, and her husband and children do not know her location, VOMC told Worthy News.
“Belarus has been referred to as "Europe's last dictatorship.” It continues to operate under many of the repressive practices of the former Soviet Union,” the group added.
There was no immediate comment from the authorities. However, after presidential elections last year, which many saw as fraudulent, “the regime” of President Alexander Lukashenko detained thousands of protestors opposing the current leadership, several sources said.
“The government has also been actively oppressing Christians, particularly those who are not members of the traditional Belarusian Orthodox Church,” VOMC stressed.
A United Nations Human Rights Council report claimed that those behind bars frequently face "poor sanitary conditions," beatings, and other forms of ill-treatment.
VOMC urged its supporters to pray for Maria and her family. “Pray that Maria's husband and children will experience His strength and comfort as they await news of her whereabouts and hopeful soon return.”
Also, “ may He use this situation to expand Ivan and Maria's faithful ministry throughout the country - - - reaching governmental authorities and other fellow citizens with the Good News of the Gospel,” VOMC added.