Kazakhstan’s President Nazarbayev has often been quoted as saying that one of the greatest needs in Kazakhstan is the development of moral character in the lives of young people. Alongside this, however, is an increased harassment of the Christian church in Kazakhstan, a church that seeks to provide the very foundation of this moral character in society.
The church in Kazakhstan requires 50 foundation members before it can be registered, these members needing to give details of names, addresses, family members and places of employment. According to Forum 18, church members are repeatedly reporting harassment by Justice officials and the Anti-terrorism police. This includes threats of loss of employment if they do not withdraw their names from the registration list, other threats, names being arbitrarily removed from the registration list, so that the numbers are less than the required 50, and the registration of churches being repeatedly denied for no apparent reason. Churches are also referred to as “destructive sects” in order to increase suspicion and distrust about them amongst the local communities.
Pastors have also been arrested and charged with religious extremism, placed under house arrest or jailed, beaten and tortured for possessing and distributing Christian books. And recently, Ministry of Justice officials ordered Bibles, children’s Bibles and other Christian literature to be confiscated from a Baptist pastor, and burnt. The pastor himself was arrested.
All this is happening at a time when Kazakhstan is seeking to become one of the most developed nations in the world and to have full membership of the World Trade Organisation. It would appear that the drive for economic wealth and freedom far outweighs any concern for freedom of religious belief and Spiritual wealth.
- Pray for the Christian church in Kazakhstan to remain strong and faithful under increasing persecution.
- For those pastors and church members who are imprisoned and tortured, that they will know the comfort and presence of the Holy Spirit with them, and be released soon.
- For the Kazakh government to acknowledge that the Church has a significant role to play in building moral character in society, and without God society will ultimately break down and lead to far greater social, moral and economical problems.
- For President Nazarbayev to realise the importance of freedom of belief and worship for his people, not just to seek after power and wealth.
Source: International Christian Concern: www.persecution.org