According to Forum 18 News Service, a Baptist pastor in Kazakhstan, Nikolai Novikov, could face up to three years in jail for refusing to pay a 2013 fine for distributing on the streets religious literature which has not been censored by the state. He has refused to pay that and other fines, as he states they are unjust.
The State Prosecutor has stated that as Novikov’s “crime” was of “middling seriousness”, meaning that, if convicted, Novikov would not be imprisoned. However, the Prosecutor also stated that he would have to live under restrictions, such as being subject to a curfew every night at his house, for up to three years. The State are now claiming that Novikov could very likely be imprisoned if he refuses to pay the fines.
Novikov has pointed out that the prosecution is illegal under Kazakhstan’s law.
The General Prosecutor’s Office has, for the first time, recently published a list of religious and other texts deemed “extremist” and whose production, import or distribution is banned.
Meanwhile, another Kazakh pastor, Pastor Kashkumbaev, spent nine months in a prison cell. He describes his experience as follows:
“[It was like] attending a spiritual university. God taught me how to love my enemy. I discovered that I never actually loved my enemies before, but being in jail – surrounded by ‘enemies’, I realized what it means to love your enemy. When I started sharing the gospel, I noticed the thirst of my fellow inmates and their desire to listen to stories about God. The prison guards helped me in my efforts. For some reason, they moved me from one cell to another, which left a trail of the gospel in this prison facility. I learned why God sent me to this prison: to show Christ to the prisoners. They were not convinced to surrender to Him by my words. They needed to see the Lord in action.”
- Pray for Christians in Kazakhstan, that they will remain true to their faith in the face of increased opposition.
- Pray for Christians in prison for their faith, that they will see their experience as an opportunity to share the Gospel and their faith with fellow prisoners.
- Pray for those who hear the Gospel, for open hearts to respond to the God who loves them.
- Pray for Kazakhstan, that there will be freedom to worship and to share the Good news of Jesus without fear.
Colossians 4 vs 3: “At the same time pray for us as well that God will open to us a door for the word, that we may declare the mystery of Christ, for which I am in prison,”
Source: www.opendoorsusa.org, http://www.forum18.org