Published: 00:01 GMT Standard Time - Saturday 06 March 2010
Praying for the Persecuted Church in Lent - Kazakhstan
Project(s): 24-775, 24-786, 80-664
It seems that Kazakhstan, one of the most ethnically diverse Central Asian countries, is now following the trend set by its neighbour Uzbekistan in cracking down on the Christian community. More than half of the population are Muslims, and there is also a large Russian Orthodox community, both of which are well tolerated. But Protestant Christians face negative coverage in the media. For example, one local paper accused Baptist Christians of spreading the H1N1 flu virus.
Yet, amidst oppression, the number of (known) believers among ethnic Kazakhs, a traditionally Muslim people group who make up just over 50% of the population, has grown from none in 1990 to some thousands (only the Lord knows exactly how many). These believers frequently face pressure from their Muslim communities to reconvert to Islam.
In June 2009, a church in Aktau was targeted by anti-terrorism police with support from local prosecutors, the courts and an imam. Two female church members, Feruza and Vera, were fined for “carrying out missionary activity without local registration”. Feruza was deported back to her native Uzbekistan because she gave a Christian children’s magazine to a 12-year-old girl who lived next door. The girl was interrogated on her own for two hours by antiterrorist police and was so terrified that she began to choke.
A German citizen, Viktor Leven, born in Kazakhstan, is due for deportation at the time of writing, accused of conducting missionary activity without state registration. He argues that he is not a missionary, just a church member professing his faith.
- Pray for Feruza as she tries to live for Christ in Uzbekistan, which is much stricter than Kazakhstan.
- Pray too for Viktor, that he will not be deported but will be allowed to continue freely to worship and witness for Christ in Kazakhstan.
- Pray for Christians in Kazakhstan, that restrictions on religious freedom will be abolished so that all Christians will be able to worship and share their faith in peace.
- Praise the Lord that the Constitutional Council of Kazakhstan announced on 11 February 2009 that a draft law, which would severely restrict freedom of religion and belief, was unconstitutional.
- Pray that many more will hear the Good News of Christ and will come to put their faith in the Lord in Kazakhstan.