Weekly column from Belarus: Enough reason to celebrate Luther more than Lenin


Eastern Europe

Zmicier Chviedaruk, CNE.news

Even during political protest, it is possible to see the Bible in Belarus. Long ago, in the 16th century, Belarus was won for the Reformation. God's Word played a greater role then than now. Photo AFP, Sergei Gapon

Hello again from Belarus, a country where “Stranger Things” have been happening for the last 28 years. For example, did you know that since 1995 in our country, the day of “The Great October Socialist Revolution” has become an official state holiday again?

The first strange point is that the old soviet holiday became an official holiday after the fall of the Soviet Union only in one country. And surprisingly, it’s not even Russia, but Belarus. Four years after getting its independence back, our dictator Lukashenka instituted the 7th of November as a state holiday again. Just after replacing the old soviet flag with the national flag.


Strange, but the Holy Scripture proclaims that our Lord uses holidays as a vital resource in His redemption mission. You may remember that during the Exodus, He established Great Holidays for His people, such as Pesach, and the Feast of Tabernacles, for them to remember how deep the love of the Almighty God is and what He has done for them.

Zmicier Chviedaruk was born in Minsk, Belarus, in 1988.

Zmicier Chviedaruk

He is member of a Reformed baptist church in that city. But he studies with the neighbours in Kyiv, at the Evangelical-Reformed Seminary of Ukraine (ERSU).

Zmicier is married with Anna and together, they raise a cat. He has authored the book “Reformation at all costs” about the history of the Reformed Church in Belarus in the 16th century. He likes reading, and listening to old-school rock from 80-90’s and plays in amateur football team “Libertas”.

The people of the Jews could escape from slavery to the most powerful empire of that time. They found their way to the Promised Land according to God’s covenant. God wanted His people to remember His works in the past, enjoy them in the present and taste something of the greater things coming in future days. Also, we can see that God judged and criticised them for incorrectly celebrating the holidays by mixing them with pagan elements.

It seems that holidays show the heart of people. Ask yourself what gives you the most joy, which will probably describe your personality quite well. What you celebrate shows the fundamental values you have. That is why holidays should bring absolute joy and hope, even in our dark times, and connect past, present and future to each other.


What happened in October 1917? Lenin and his followers organised a military takeover in Saint Petersburg (Russia). They grabbed power in a new Russian republic that was proclaimed after the fall of the monarchy. That happened during WW I. Soon after that, Belarus and some other countries in the region, like Ukraine, Poland, and Lithuania, declared their independence.

But it appeared that Lenin and his Bolsheviks did not recognise us (Belarusians) as an independent state. They sent hundreds of thousands of troops to invade our territory. The Red Army was aiming at a European Revolution and even tried to occupy Warsaw, Poland. However, they lost the battle of Warsaw in 1920 and had a retreat. That is how the Bolsheviks got a hold of half of the Belarusian territory, where they started mass terror. After the 1939 alliance with Hitler and the start of WW II, they had a chance to continue their bloody work in the Western part of our country.

You can google “Kurapaty” to get a picture of what Soviet power did to Belarusians after the Great Revolution. Hundreds of thousands were murdered. Others departed for Siberia or were sentenced to serve terms in a prison camp, the so-called gulags. So, it is surprising that the holiday connected to such bloody and cruel events is still celebrated in modern Belarus.


Another great event is not celebrated as a national holiday in Belarus in October. It is about something that happened 400 years before Lenin’s Red Revolution. In October 1517, the Great European Reformation began. You may even know how many nails Martin Luther used to nail his 95 theses against indulgences to the church door publicly. European churches started returning to the authority of the Holy Scripture and historical tradition in its teaching and practice. The church was reformed and began reforming society.

You can be surprised, but an old Belarusian state, the Grand Duchy Lithuanian (GDL), had a chance to become a Reformed country. The ruler of the state, duke Mikalaj Radziwill Chorny, heard the Reformed teaching from a Calvinistic minister and called himself a Reformed believer in 1553. That same year, the first Reformed church was established in the country and the first Reformed publishing house, a school and a catechism class.

Reformation Day would we be a fantastic milestone for Belarus. Photo AFP, Sergei Gapon

Ten years after the Radziwill’s Bible was printed, translated from the original languages. Since then, the majority of governors have called themselves Reformed Christians. That had a significant impact on the country’s laws and governmental system. They tried to make justice available for all people despite their nationality and denomination in GDL. Reformation Day seems to be a fantastic milestone for us and a day of remembering the way of our God amazingly changed our nation long ago through His Word and Grace. Celebrating this holiday today would bring some joy in our hopeless days of “October revolution”.

The current celebration culture keeps our national identity captive to the terror of the Red Revolution. We pray that one day just like 500 years ago, the light of the Gospel will shine in the darkness and bring freedom which will show in the celebration of Reformation Day in Belarus.



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