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Unreached People Group Communities

As a follow-up on the ethNYcity people profiles below, we have identified 69 unreached/least-reached people group communities in Metro New York. These communities are often “hidden” from Christian interaction and engagement. Please consider printing off the .pdf version and regularly praying for these communities in your home, small group, or church. 69 Most Significant Unreached People Group Communities in Metro New York. For more information on regularly praying for specific people group communities, visit globalgates.info/prayer.

The ethNYcity people profiles below (and on our app and widgets) feature the most significant ethnic groups in Metro New York. As a result, not all of these are unreached, but the ones that have a significant Christian presence can play a vital role in reaching out to unreached peoples in Metro New York.

People Profiles

Belarusians in Metro New York

Place of Origin: Belarus
Location in Metro New York: New Jersey (South River, New Brunswick); South Brooklyn
Population in Metro New York: 55,000 (Community Estimate)
Population in New York City:
Primary Religion: Jews: nonreligious; ethnic Belarusians: Christianity (Russian Orthodox)
Secondary Religion: Jews: Judaism; ethnic Belarusians: Christianity (Roman Catholic)
Status of Christian Witness: Less than 2% evangelical. Some evangelical resources available, but no active church planting within the past two years.
Primary Languages: Belarusian, Russian,

Bio: “It is the last dictatorship in Europe,” a group of Belarusian community leaders claimed before a visiting Belarusian politician spoke out against the current Belarus regime. As are most Belarusian gatherings in Metro New York, the meeting was held in a Belarusian Orthodox Church that doubles as a community center. Here, in basement fellowship halls, Belarusian-Americans gather to raise support for a truly democratic Belarus and seek to retain a culture they feel is slipping away in their homeland. The Republic of Belarus was founded in 1991 as the Soviet Union dissolved, but in 1994, Alexander Lukashenko won the presidential election—a position he still retains—and his regime is now widely regarded as a dictatorship. In 2005, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a statement that there are “outposts of tyranny” in this world, proceeding to name six countries that fit such a title. Belarus was one of them. Of course, Belarusians are no strangers to oppression. Dating back to the late 1700s, attempts have been made to “Russify” them. Alla Romano, a Belarusian community leader, explained that her parents came to America in 1949 to escape persecution and communism. She added, “My parents had been a part of an effort to organize Belarusian schools and were punished for this. They knew that if they did not leave Belarus, they would be killed.” Commenting on the present regime, she stated, “The current dictator came to rule and said, 'I am not going to take Belarus into the civilized world. We will stay with Russia.'” Indeed, that is what has taken place. Belarus has retained closer ties with Russia than any other former Soviet Republic. In 1996, Belarus established a union with Russia in an effort that could lead to the establishment of another miniature Soviet Union. Today, an estimated 11 thousand Belarusians live in Metro New York that identify and organize as such. Jews who emigrated from Belarus have a much larger presence, with around 44 thousand people, but they identify themselves more as Jewish or Russian than Belarusian and have little to do with their compatriots.

When Did They Come to New York? In the latter part of the nineteenth century until World War I, thousands of Belarusian peasants immigrated to the industrial cities of America for economic reasons. The end of World War II witnessed the immigration of displaced Belarusians who were fervent anticommunists and set up political organizations accordingly. Metro New York was a primary destination for this group. In the 1980s and ‟90s, a large influx of Belarusian Jews arrived in Metro New York, and a smaller number of ethnic Belarusians continue to immigrate due to conditions in their country.

Where Do They Live? Dr. Vitaut Kipel, who wrote the book Belarusans in the United States, claims that Middlesex County in New Jersey was “primarily Belarusian” in the 1970s. As the first generation gets older and dies off, this presence is less felt, even though the towns of South River and New Brunswick still have a sizeable population. Brooklyn is the other hub for Belarusians, with Brighton Beach and South Brooklyn being the center of the Belarusian-Jewish population.

What Do They Believe? With the Russian Orthodox Church serving as the backbone of the Belarusian community in Metro New York, up to ninety percent of non-Jewish Belarusians have some sort of af- filiation with the Church. The remaining ten percent are mostly Catholic. As Dr. Kipel put it, “A very small percent are Protestant—too small to even count.” Despite the central role of the Orthodox Church, the first generation is concerned that their children are no longer interested in religion, as their children seem more concerned about being ridiculed by others than they are about carrying on the faith. Belarusian Jews are mostly nonreligious but tend to practice Judaism the longer they are here.

What Are Their Lives Like? Metro New York attracts many Belarusians that are independent thinkers and highly educated. With both men and women having high levels of education, Belarusians are involved in a variety of professions. Attracted by the stability in America, they usually seek to assimilate into American life although they cherish their time together at Belarusian churches, festivals, and meetings.

Significant Notes:

  • In 1995, Belarus declared that Russian would be added along- side Belarusian as an official language of the country. Since then, support for Belarusian language and culture has dwindled.
  • Depending on where they lived in Belarus, immigrants from Belarus might identify themselves as Russian, or as the case is with many in Chicago, as Polish.
  • Some Belarusians object to the names “Byelorussia” or “Byelorussian,” because of their association with Russia and Soviet rule.
  • Historically, Belarusians have been lumped into Russian or Polish categories in official US figures.

How To Pray: The children of Belarusian immigrants have largely grown disinterested in the church. Pray that they would have encounters with Christ at school and the workplace that would bring fresh meaning and purpose to the gathering of Christians for worship.