People start to smile, and there’s a sigh of relief from around the room. Small notebooks appear—songbooks—and someone gets out a guitar. Everyone begins to sing a song of worship to God.
And you realize, this isn’t just a dinner party—it’s a secret church meeting.
The reality of following Jesus in Central Asia
Why do Murat and Mira have to hold their church meetings in secret, disguised as a dinner? In this part of Central Asia, you have to register to have a church meeting, and you have to have at least 50 people to register—and there are only 20 people at Murat and Mira’s home.
But even if they did have 50 members, it could be a huge risk to attempt to register. It might lead to church members having their homes raided in the middle of the night, or being questioned at the police station.
Why does the government want to make it so hard for churches to register? Central Asia is a majority Muslim region, and Islam is seen as part of the identity of most of the people groups here. Believers from Muslim backgrounds are considered traitors, and the Protestant churches they attend are seen as alien sects that aim to undermine the current political system. In many places in Central Asia, the government is an authoritarian system ruled by a single person or party, so control over each aspect of society is vital to the political authorities.