Belarus President Allows Christian Radio Show

Friday, August 1, 2003

Belarus President Allows Christian Radio Show
unprecedented move comes amid concern about religious freedom

By: Stefan J. Bos,
Eastern Europe Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

MINSK, BELARUS, (ANS) -- Just over a month after he signed what critics call "Europe's most restrictive religion law," the president of Belarus has agreed to allow a Christian radio program to air daily in his ex-Soviet republic, an official said Tuesday, December 17.

In a move organizers describe as "an answer to prayers" President Alexander Lukashenko made clear that Christians can broadcast the "Alpha Hour" show on Alpha Radio, the country's second largest FM radio network, said Operations Manager J. Gator Henry.

Henry, 38, told ASSIST News Service that the station's president, "has personal...assurances" that the "Alpha Hour" show "will be allowed to air 7 days a week, one hour per day," for a potential audience of 1,5 million in Minsk and the nearby city of Vitebsk.

"This process to get to this point has taken more than eighteen months, three personal meetings with Alpha Radio in Minsk, a multiplicity of email communications, and more than two years of prayers, by many people around the world."


The apparent permission also comes amid international pressure on Lukashenko to improve human rights in his troubled nation. Henry suggested however that a lack of money, not legal troubles are still "preventing the 'Alpha Hour' radio show" from going on the air.

"We are in need of ten thousand dollars to facilitate the necessary training with the crew and staff at Alpha Radio," which Henry said will take approximately four to five weeks.

He stressed the funds would cover the first month of broadcasting as well as the transfer of one thousand "contemporary Christian songs" in the Russian language, which have been donated to the Alpha Hour by Radio TEOS in St. Petersburg, Russia.


The total cost of operating the "Alpha Hour" radio show is about $135,000 annually under a two year contract, Henry said.

He made clear that the program is part of his Florida based ministry Project Belarus Inc., which was established as a charitable organization for the sole purpose of financing and administering the radio show.

"It is our intention and prayer that through Project Belarus", the world-wide church would "enable us to finance this radio ministry," Henry added.


J. Gator Henry and his wife Vitalia, who is from Belarus, will leave Florida and settle in nearby Kiev, Ukraine, from January, to co-ordinate the radio show. "My wife is the inspiration behind all of this, and the one whom the Lord has utilized to bring about this unprecedented and historical opportunity," he said.

"She is from Minsk, and her heart breaks for the people of her home country, as does mine." J. Gator Henry is also working in the region as Senior Producer for CBN-CIS, the former Soviet Union division of the Christian Broadcasting Network from American evangelist Pat Robertson.

Henry admitted that the Belarusian authorities could still jeopardize his activities. "We do not know if one day they will come and attempt to pull the plug," he said.

"But we do know that right now, at such a time as this, the door is open. And we, as those professing to belong to Jesus Christ, have a mandate from God to walk through this door faithfully, and boldly."

J. Gator Henry and his wife can be reached for more information, prayers and support at:

J. Gator & Vitalia V. Henry
Project Belarus
2001 NE 38 St. #2
Lighthouse Point, FL 33064

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