Though persecution is on the rise, it isn’t stopping believers in Kazakhstan (Central Asia) from sharing their faith

English: Map of the Ethno-Linguistic groups of...

English: Map of the Ethno-Linguistic groups of central Asia.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Click on photo to enlarge and for source.

From the Russian/Asian front. Mission News Network reports:

Kazachs consider evangelist worse than spies for bringing Kazakhs to Christ.

SGA serves Bible-preaching churches in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States by helping national pastors and churches reach their own people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. „There definitely has been an uptick in the level and intensity of persecution in these countries,” says Griffith.

„The worst persecution believers get would be in Turkmenistan andUzbekistan, but it certainly has been stepping up in Kazakhstan.” (Photo credit http://voiceofthepersecuted.wordpress.com)

Persecution Personified

Earlier this year, Pastor Bakhytzhan Kashkumbayev was imprisoned as part of a nationwide crack-down. He’s been arrested on trumped-up charges, denied medical attention, and imprisoned in a psychiatric asylum. Now, according to International Christian Concern (ICC), Kazakh officials are harassing members of Kashkumbaev’s Grace Protestant Church.

„You are worse than spies. You bring Kazakhs to Christ,” an officer reportedly told one of ICC’s sources.

In Eastern Kazakhstan, Baptist Pastor Pavel Leonov is facing up to a year in prison for refusing to pay a fine equal to two months’ income, according to Forum 18 News. Leonov is part of the Council of Churches Baptist, a group which refuses to register their fellowships with the government.

SGA works with churches of the Union of Evangelical Christians Baptist (UECB), a group registered with Kazakhstan’s government. But that doesn’t mean they don’t run into problems, Griffith notes. „They try to comply with registration laws,” he says. „They try to follow the law as closely as they can, and they still end up getting persecuted anyway.”

The Silver Lining

Though persecution is on the rise, it isn’t stopping believers in Central Asia from sharing their faith. „The churches remember what life was like under Communism,” Griffith states. „They know what it is to live and serve under persecution, and they’re certainly not going to stop proclaiming the Gospel because this seems to be stepping up again.”

Keep praying for persecuted Christians around the world. Pray specifically for believers in Central Asia. „Pray for these pastors who are encountering difficulty right now,” adds Griffith.

„For some reason, it just doesn’t seem to grab the attention of the news media, and it needs to,” says Griffith. „I mean, these are people that are actually being killed for their faith.”

You can read more of Pastor Bakhytzhan Kashkumbayev’s story at http://voiceofthepersecuted.wordpress.com

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