Leave Jesus Or Go Unburied
If you have ever dealt with the loss of a loved one, you know that it is one of the most difficult things to go through. Not only are you grieving their loss, but there are a lot of small details to take care of as well. Funeral arrangements, the reading of a will and even figuring out where to bury them. Persecuted Christians in Kyrgyzstan have to deal with all of this and then some… When Bakyt*, a local Kyrgyz believer, was dying of cancer, he was visited by three Moldo (Muslim leaders) from the local mosque. “If you do not leave your faith in Jesus,” they told him, “we will not allow your family to bury you in the local cemetery.” After he passed away, his Christian brothers were forced to change his burial location three times! Each time they faced resentment from the local representatives of the mosque and were prohibited from burying him. After two years, this situation has brought a great deal of bitterness and sorrow to his family, relatives and friends. “I never thought that there would be no place in our homeland to bury my husband,” his widow Sarah* later said. Kyrgyzstan continues to see ongoing cases of church persecution, especially during the last couple of years. One of the most visible forms of persecution is a common pressure from society toward church members who are burying their Christian relatives. A blatant case happened last year in one of the villages in the south of Kyrgyzstan. It was awful case of the exhumation of a Christian’s corpse after local Muslims found out that the buried person had become a Christian believer before his death. In the end, representatives from the local mosque forced relatives of the deceased Christian to bury him outside the village cemetery. Historically, in Kyrgyzstan and other countries of the former Soviet Union, community facilities and institutions such as cemeteries are set up separately, based on ethnic principles. There is a cemetery for Kyrgyz people, usually called the Muslim cemetery; the cemetery for Russians is called the Christian graveyard. There is still another cemetery for Koreans, and so on. So the problem is that when a Kyrgyz person becomes a believer in Christ, and then dies, Muslims will not allow his/her relatives to bury him/her in the cemetery reserved for Kyrgyz people, who are traditionally Muslim. But at the same time, because the person who died is an ethnic Kyrgyz, the Russians do not allow the person to be buried in the Christian cemetery. So the church’s question in Kyrgyzstan remains: “Where can we bury our Krygyz Christians?” Despite the fact that a Kyrgyz Christian has died physically, he and his fellow Christians continue to be under the pressures of persecution for putting his faith in Christ! Prayer Points: 1. Pray for comfort for the Kyrgyz believers dealing with local authorities when they are experiencing grief, after one of their believing relatives dies. 2. Pray that the Kyrgyz society will accept the provision of cemeteries for Kyrgyz converts to Christ. * Names have been changed for security purposes.