Karina, a Turkmen teacher, knew Jesus’ call for total abandonment to Him; however, she never expected the police to show up during a work meeting and tell her to renounce her faith in the God of the Christians. Only a couple days later, her boss confronted her also. She persistently decided to keep following Jesus, and this cost her job.
Turkmenistan is one of those former Soviet republics we never hear about in the media. Most don’t know it is ruled by a dictatorship which is still anchored in strong communist roots. Most don’t know a majority of the people are Muslim. Most don’t realize there is a church under pressure in this Central Asian country. Christians with a Muslim background have to suffer under the consequences.
In Karina’s case, she came to faith a number of years ago after her sister shared the gospel with her. She started to read the Bible and even translated some materials into Turkmen. Recently, the Turkmen police must have started to monitor Karina, shares an Open Doors field worker.
“She was ordered to come to a work meeting, but it was the police who showed up. They questioned and intimidated her. She was asked to renounce her faith, but Karina refused. She was pretty shaken up after the ‘meeting’.”
Only a couple of days later, Karina found herself in another similar situation. “This time her boss ‘interrogated’ her about her faith and church activities,” the field worker shares. “Most likely, he was pressured by the police. When she kept following Jesus, she was forced to write a letter of resignation. Losing your job might not seem the worst example of persecution, but it is serious when you are a single mom with two grown-up children in a country with no unemployment benefits.”
Karina phoned another Christian and told her she wanted to get some distance from the underground church in Turkmenistan. “I am still a believer, but I don’t want any contact with other Christians now. I also won’t do any more translation work.”
Open Doors’ contacts will try to safely connect with Karina to see if she can be encouraged and if she needs other support. “Sadly, there are so many ‘Karina’s’ in our region,” says the Open Doors field worker. “We do want to encourage them with the help of our worldwide supporters.
The government can play a big part, as Karina’s case makes clear. Christians with a Muslim background don’t always go to the official, registered churches, but meet in small groups in houses and apartments. This makes it more difficult for the government to exercise control over them.
*Representative names and photo to protect persecuted Christians