Prayers for Imprisoned Brother
Please pray for Umid Gajayev and his family during the coming frigid winter season. To sustain him this winter, his wife Malahat is planning to visit him with a delivery of food, warm clothing and Christian books to provide him with both physical and spiritual food.
Umid Gajayev, from Dashoguz, was arrested in April 2012, and sentenced the following month to four years in prison on charges of ‘hooliganism’. His arrest followed an argument with neighbors, but Christians in the local community say the criminal charges were brought against him disproportionately because of his religious beliefs.
Neighbors pointed out that charges against him were trumped up. Assailants attacked him near his house, and he protected himself. Following this altercation, local police charged him with hooliganism and sentenced him to four years in prison- an unprecedented penalty.
In recent years, though the position of the Christian minority in Turkmenistan has remained relatively stable, additional pressure from both society and the state has increased their level of persecution.
Turkmenistan has rapidly emerged as a developing country, largely due to enormous findings of oil and gas. This exploration, however, is a two-sided coin. On one side, it has brought in wealth as investors are pouring money into the economy. A recent report claims that the capital, Ashgabat, is moving toward becoming a “marble city.” The other side of this exponential growth is that the country could become dependent on the exportation of oil and gas, and that, given the high level of secrecy and corruption, this growth will only benefit a small group of people that will not uphold the rights of citizens.
Turkmen citizens are living in many countries, ranging from Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Iran, northern Pakistan, Syria and Iraq all the way to the North Caucasus (Stavropol Krai). Some of these Turkmen expats have become involved with Islamic jihadists in the Middle East (Islamic State) and the Indian subcontinent (al Qaeda).
Fearing the impact of the jihadists who return to Turkmenistan, the government now closely monitors all religious activity. Because of this, Turkmenistan is considered to be one of the most restrictive places in the world, completely lacking freedom of information or the press. Additionally, every group in society is heavily monitored, and access to foreign media and resources is highly restricted. Consequently, it is difficult to get information from outside the country.
Please pray for Umid as he continues to serve out his sentence in prison, especially as the weather turns severely cold during the winter months.
Father, we lift up Umid to Your tender care as he remains in prison, lonely and cold. Warm him with the knowledge of Your sure presence with him. Provide the physical warmth and nourishment he needs to remain healthy, and give Malahat protection on the road as she travels to the prison to bring food, warm clothing, and Christian books. Protect and nourish his soul by the power of Your Spirit in him as he continues to read Your Word. Encourage him with the knowledge of our prayers being sent to You from around the world. We also pray for all the believers in Turkmenistan; that they would have Your wisdom as they sort through life with increasing persecution. In the name of Jesus, our sure presence, Amen.