Imagine you are a pastor in Turkmenistan. Your phone rings. When you answer, you realize it’s the secret police. They order you to report to the police station, without giving a reason. You show up at the station, anxious and uncertain as to what might happen when you step inside.
They tell you that you must check in at the station every ten days, to which you reply that you haven’t done anything wrong. You press them for an explanation. The one you get isn’t satisfactory and sends chills down your spine: “just in case…”
For *Dilshod, this is no imaginary scenario; it happened to him last week. In his country, pastors are often subject to harassment by the authorities. Every move is tracked. Each phone call tapped. Raids, threats, arrests and fines are used by the government to control Christians and other religious, social and cultural groups deemed suspect.
While the root of persecution in Turkmenistan is dictatorial paranoia, it is made worse by a rampant corruption that allows local authorities to profit on the government’s disdain for Christians and other minorities. Couple all of this with an Islamic culture that persecutes converts to Christianity, and you can see why Dilshod and our other brothers and sisters in his country request our prayers.
So as you finish reading this paragraph, don’t just move on to another article or carry on checking your email; pray for Dilshod and his family. Pray for security and spiritual strength. Pray for their country, and for every Christian undergoing persecution in Turkmenistan at this very moment. Pray for them to be steadfast in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ, who is truly in control. Remember their plight as you go about your day today, because together we form a Body. We are #OneWithThem.
Turkmenistan is ranked #20 on the 2015 Open Doors World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians.