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Tajikistan

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A church in Tajikistan was able to buy and register this property with help from Barnabas

Christian worship and witness are tightly controlled by the government of Tajikistan. It suppresses and punishes churches and other organisations that do anything independently of state control.

Madamin Chariyev, a Christian from the capital Dushanbe, was fined in September 2013 for “illegally importing unlicensed religious literature”. He and two other members of his church had received copies of a Christian magazine from Belarus. Although these were devotional materials intended only for the Christians’ personal use, the authorities insisted that they should have been checked and licensed by the state. Such “expert analysis” of Christian books and magazines is unaffordable for small churches.

The censorship of all religious literature is just one part of the repressive official regulation of the churches in Tajikistan. In the past four years the government has expanded the laws that limit religious freedom. In effect it claims the right to approve, restrict or prevent any kind of Christian worship, ministry or mission.

The 2009 Religion Law forced all churches to re-register with the state and established demanding and intrusive registration requirements. Unregistered Christian activity was criminalised. Evangelism and private Christian education (except by parents) were also prohibited, and official permission must be given to provide Christian instruction. There are no licensed Christian schools in the whole country, and unregistered schools are closed down. Administrative and penal amendments in 2011 and 2012 introduced new penalties, including large fines and prison terms, for religion-related offences. A 2011 law effectively bans young people under 18 from participating in Christian worship. Religious communities are liable to be punished for engaging in activities not specifically mentioned in their statutes.

Minority communities that are believed to be influenced from abroad, such as Protestant Christians, are particularly liable to repression under these draconian regulations. Christians make up only about 1% of the population of Tajikistan and are therefore especially vulnerable. However, the stifling state controls also apply to the Muslim majority. Families and communities of Tajik Christians who have converted from Islam may put pressure on them to reconvert.

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    • Pray for 27 Christians, believed to be from various Asian countries, who were detained overnight by the Saudi authorities on 5 September for worshipping at a private home in Khafji. The home had been under surveillance since a neighbour had reported suspicious activities there. Pray that the Lord will protect His people in Saudi Arabia, where it is illegal to practise a non-Islamic religion in public but supposedly permissible to do so in private. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 14 hours ago

    • Wao, a predominantly Christian town on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines, is protesting against its inclusion in the new semi-independent Islamic region of Bangsamoro. Wao’s mayor, Elvino Balicao, is seeking exemption from the Bangsamoro government and its Islamic law and has asked that the town remain under the central government. He said that the town is 83% Christian and that local churches support exemption from Bangsamoro. Wao is in the centre of the Muslim-majority province of Lanao del Sur. Pray that the Lord will protect His people and that Wao will gain exemption from the Bangsamoro government. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Nov 2014 00:00

    • 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 Mon, Nov 2014 00:00

    • “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

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