Central Asia: Intriguing and Challenging

Central Asia is a fascinating region which presents many challenges for effective Gospel ministry. Historically, it once enjoyed the economic benefits of being on the ‘silk road’ which facilitated European and Asian trading. More recently the five separate countries that make up Central Asia were part of the former Soviet Union. Today all the countries are independent, but sadly some have often had to endure violent conflicts which have erupted because of ethnic tensions.

Since the fall of Communism, the normal pattern of government has been that of authoritarian secular leaders who have in varying degrees opposed Biblical Christianity. In some countries that opposition has hardened as governments have had to deal with the rising influence of militant Islam. Traditionally the indigenous people of the region are Muslim, but many are nominal in their beliefs. However, a number of factors have given rise to an increase in fundamentalist activity and consequently new laws have been introduced which, although designed to meet the threat of militant Islam, have had an impact on Gospel ministry across the region. Not unexpectedly each of the five countries presents different challenges, so we asked a partner of SGA from the region to outline briefly the distinctive contexts of each. He writes:

Kazakhstan:

There are restrictions but still freedom to pray, read the Bible and under certain conditions gather together. There are concerns for the future, but we are thankful that a law, which would have made Gospel ministry more difficult, was recently withdrawn from Parliament at the last moment.

Kazakh Horses a

Kyrgyzstan:

Sadly, the country is politically unstable. Christians experience restrictions and some persecution, but we thank God that we are seeing more Kyrgyzs coming to faith in Jesus Christ.

Tajikistan:

The church is small, but believers are very sincere in their faith. Pamir is an area of southern Tajikistan that is effectively unreached with the Gospel. Recently work has begun to bring the Gospel to this region. The government is not happy with these plans and there has been a reaction by the authorities. Nevertheless, we are thankful that the Lord is beginning to open the hearts of these people.

Uzbekistan:

In recent years Uzbekistan has been one of the most difficult countries in which to be a believer, as the government strongly opposed evangelical Christianity. There is still persecution and opposition, but over the last eighteen months the country has begun to open up to the rest of the world. We are praying this will result in greater religious freedom.

Uzbek Tower

Turkmenistan:

This is a closed country. Even though we live and work in Central Asia we cannot visit this country. Yet, we thank God there is a church in Turkmenistan. We are grateful there are some Turkmen students of the Independent Bible Correspondence School (which SGA sponsors) and we trust this ministry will help them as they live for God in their country.

This is the context of Gospel ministry within Central Asia. We want to greet you and thank you that people of the Bible pray for us and support us. As we partner together, we believe we can bring the message of Jesus Christ to the people of Central Asia.