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Kazakhstan

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Christian literature is heavily controlled in Kazakhstan. Barnabas Aided the production of these booklets in the Kazakh language

In April 2013 Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, claimed that “religious freedom is fully secured” in the country. In fact Christians, who comprise at least 25% of the population, endure restrictions on sharing their faith and controls on religious literature. All churches must register with the authorities, who require that cumbersome criteria be fulfilled before registration is granted. Unregistered churches may be subject to raids and church leaders and their members given heavy fines.

One raid, on an Easter Sunday service in 2013 at a home in Zhaskent, was so traumatic that an elderly church member subsequently suffered a heart attack. The church’s leader was fined the equivalent of six months of his pension. The authorities also liquidated a Baptist seminary in 2013, and an unprecedented court ruling ordered the destruction of Christian literature that had been seized from an evangelist. This ruling was later overturned.

In a particularly invidious case, Pastor Bakhytzhan Kashkumbayev was convicted of harming the health of a church member, despite her appeals to the contrary. In February 2014, the 67-year-old pastor was given a four-year prison term suspended for three years. He was also ordered to pay his supposed victim “moral damages” of two million Tenge (£6,500; US$10,800). He was alleged to have caused psychological harm to Lyazzat Almenova, though she repeatedly protested his innocence.

New laws on religious practice were introduced in October 2011 that tightened controls. A complex system of registration was established for all religious organisations, and unregistered activity was banned; all groups were required to re-register by October 2012 or face liquidation. A group must have at least 50 members to be registered, and many small churches were stripped of their legal status in early 2012. Larger congregations have also been denied re-registration on various grounds. One group of churches that refuses on principle to register with the authorities has been warned that members’ homes that are used for worship will be confiscated if the Christians continue to meet there.

Even registered churches are subject to controls and interference with their activities. Their registered status seems to provide little protection against raids, fines and the confiscation of literature.

“Non-traditional” religious groups have recently reported increased discrimination. Converts from Islam also experience pressure from their families and communities to renounce their faith.

More than half of Kazakhstan’s population are Muslims, but the country also has a large Russian Orthodox community. Yet the number of (known) believers among ethnic Kazakhs, a traditionally Muslim people group who make up just over 50% of the population, grew from none in 1990 to as many as 15,000 by 2010.

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    • Our Father in Heaven, we lift up our brothers and sisters serving sentences in labour camps in North Korea, whether foreigners like Kenneth Bae from the USA, or the far greater number of North Korean believers whose names we do not know but You do. Please pour out Your grace into their lives as they suffer hunger, exhaustion, pain and imprisonment for the sake of Christ. May they continue steadfast in their faith, loving their enemies and praying for their persecutors. May their Christ-like lives draw other North Koreans to You. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 12 hours ago

    • “It is not typical for a man to show or talk about his weaknesses and admit them. These days the fear and pressure from the authorities and the Muslim world reveal the condition of my heart.” A Christian leader in Central Asia shared frankly in a letter the way in which the constant pressure he faced was wearing him down. He wrote how, having finally recognised his fears and defeats, he had then received encouragement from the Lord through the words of 2 Corinthians 1:1-10. Pray for our brother “M.T.” and the countless other Christians around the world living with ongoing opposition that the Father of compassion and God of all comfort will draw close and comfort them in all their troubles. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Nov 2014 00:00

    • Thank the Lord that, with the help of Barnabas Aid, two house churches in a strict Central Asian country were able to purchase coal-powered generators. Winters there are harsh, and the power supply can Barnabas is helping 30,000 displaced Iraqi Christians be erratic. This particular congregation used to meet in a church building, but in 2009 their permit to assemble was revoked and seven of their members were questioned at the police station. Since then the church has had to meet in members’ homes. Pray that the Lord will continue to bless their ministry and that the generators will allow the church to continue to expand despite opposition from the government. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Nov 2014 00:00

    • An Uzbek Christian who had converted from Islam died earlier this year and was buried. The local Muslim leaders banned any Muslim from attending the man’s funeral. But one of his work colleagues, a radical Muslim who had been struck by the Christian’s words and way of life, attended the funeral anyway, ignoring all the threats and warnings. She was puzzled by such a hostile reaction to a man she knew to be “God-fearing”. At the funeral she heard the Gospel and decided to give her life to Christ. Pray for “F.” as she is now being disciple and growing in her new faith, that she will be strong in the face of opposition from the Muslim community. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Nov 2014 00:00

    • Pray for hundreds of Christian, Yazidi and Turkmen women held in Badush Prison in Mosul, Iraq by ISIS militants. The women are reported to be raped daily unless they agree to convert to ISIS’s brand of Sunni Islam. The UN estimates that there have been roughly 1,500 Iraqi women and children from the Christian and Yazidi communities abducted by ISIS and then forced into sexual slavery. Ask our Heavenly Father to have mercy on each one of these women and children and to deliver them from evil. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Nov 2014 00:00

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