During a recent worship service in an Evangelical Church in Kazakhstan, representatives of the local government came into the building unannounced, illegally stopped the service, and ordered all of the parishioners to display their personal identification documents. After members of the church and the pastor objected to the request, administration officials alleged that it is not a registered church, though it is, in fact, part of the registered church.
Please pray for all of the members of this church in the midst of the fearful situation in which they now find themselves. All of the worshipers were told to come to the city’s Office of Religion Department and write an explanation regarding their participation in the “non-registered” religious organization. The church leadership has hired a lawyer who is now engaged in defending this case.
Pastor Boris* and sister Alfia* have recently been captured in the web of oppression surrounding Christians in Uzbekistan. The current regime restricts freedom of religion, and Christian converts from a Muslim background face widespread opposition from their family, friends and community. In the past year, the oppression of Christians has been constant. Christians’ homes are frequently raided, and books and other materials confiscated. Most often, the state monitors and heavily fines religious movements in order to control them.
Pastor Boris was detained and arrested by the road police (GAI) at one of the police posts, as he was on his way to visit believers at a sister church in another city. Police officers searched the pastor’s vehicle and belongings, confiscating his smartphone, which contained Christian materials and the contact information of a number of believers in the country. Pastor Boris was accused of “keeping religious materials for further distribution.” Following the trial, he will most likely be sentenced to pay a fine. Please pray for this situation and for the court’s decision.
Sister Alfia is a parishioner of an underground church in another part of Uzbekistan. Police obtained information about her from Pastor Boris’ confiscated phone. The day after Uzbek police detained Pastor Boris, the secret police raided sister Alfia’s house. During the search, they discovered numerous Christian books, movies, and music, as well as sermons on DVD. Please pray for sister Alfia. She has since changed all of her phone numbers, so Open Doors contacts have been unable to contact her and do not know details of her current situation. Please pray for God’s protection for sister Alfia, as well as for Pastor Boris and others whose information was found in his phone.
Father, we pray for Your hand of protection to rest upon the members of the church in Kazakhstan, Pastor Boris, sister Alfia, and the other Christians whose contact information is in Pastor Boris’ phone. We pray for their safety and for Your Spirit to overwhelm them with a peace that casts out their fear. We pray for wisdom as they respond to questions, courage as they remain faithful to Christ and His church, and discernment regarding information in their phones and computers about other believers. Where the government would attempt to neutralize the influence of Your church in Central Asia, we pray that You will use these circumstances to cause Your church there to grow in faith, in numbers and in influence. In the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, Amen.