Early in the morning, on October 13, Kanygul Satybaldiyeva, a 76-year-old Christian woman, died in Sary-Talaa, a village in Kyrgyzstan. According to Radio Freedom in Central Asia, her daughter, Jyldyz Azaeva, was not permitted to bury her mother in the local village cemetery. Only Muslims may be buried there, and Kanygul and her daughter are both Christians, members of a Baptist church. The following day, the imam of the district gathered together people in the village to demand that Azaeva, “Convert to Islam or find another place!”
Because of the villagers’ resistance to her efforts to bury her mother in the local cemetery, Azaeva asked for help from the local state administration. After many debates and searches, a place to bury Satybaldieva’s body was found and she was laid to rest at the village cemetery in Oruktu. However, residents there began to protest as well, resulting in the exhumation of Staybaldiyeva’s body and the removal of her remains from the Oruktu cemetery. Some even began to call for Azaeva to be stoned for burying her mother in a Muslim cemetery.
In an interview later with Radio Freedom, Mayor Sonunbek Akparaliev, head of the local district, said that a place at the local cemetery had been found and was being prepared. The mayor also promised that requests for authorities to investigate the behavior of the the person who leads prayers in a mosque. More will be addressed.
“A place in the cemetery has been found,” said Akparaliev. “Last year, one Baptist was buried here. Yes, we’re all Muslims. What will become of us if everyone will turns and is converted to another faith? Regarding the imam, I have not heard yet, but I’ll check. Then we’ll talk.”
Please pray for villages in Kyrgyzstan to work out an agreeable plan to bury the dead respectfully, Christians as well as Muslims. Pray also for Jyldyz Azaeva as she walks through this ongoing ordeal and grieves the loss of her mother.
Father, as we read of the plight of these Christians in Kyrgyzstan, we are reminded of the kindness of Joseph of Arimathea, who provided for the honorable burial of the body Jesus following his crucifixion. We pray for such kindnesses for the Christians in Kyrgyzstan as they seek a place to lay to rest their loved ones. We are thankful that Kanygul is present with You in glory, free from the cares of this world, and that a place has been found to lay to rest the body that carried her through this life. We pray that You would soften the hearts of the Muslims toward the Christians, that You would strengthen the officials to mediate these circumstances, and that as the light of Christ shines through the lives of the believers, You would draw many into saving faith. In the name of Jesus who will come again to raise all who are called by Your name, both the living and the dead. Amen.