For 5 years, officials in the Pavlodar Region of north-east Kazakhstan have been trying to close down a protestant-run drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre. Finally, in January, they succeeded in getting a three month closure of the centre, in addition to fining the director the equivalent of three months wages.
The Centre housed 14 residents, all of whom were there voluntarily seeking help for their addictions, and were free to leave whenever they wished.
Due to the police raids and investigations over the past few months, over half of the residents have left, being “scared and tired of the police pressure.” The centre director said that they have only seen one of the residents who left them, and he had already slipped back into heavy drinking. They have no idea where any of the other residents are.
The authorities have been trying to close down the centre on the grounds of inciting “religious hatred” and violating Kazakhstan’s harsh 2011 Religion Law, which bans almost any religious activity away from state-registered religious premises.
Protestant-run drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres have been repeated targets of official harassment, and it is thought that this is a part of a specific campaign against “non-traditional” communities, especially those running social projects. Being “non-traditional”, these projects are outside government control and influence, and it is believed that this is the major motivation behind the wish to close them down.
- Pray for the rehabilitation centres as they seek to provide help and restoration to those suffering addictions. Pray that they will be seen to be doing a good work and not as a threat to authorities.
- Pray for the director of the rehab centre as he faces an impossible fine. Pray that he will find the means to pay the fine, and will know the provision and protection of His heavenly Father.
- Pray for those residents who left, that they will not forget the help they received, nor the message of love and hope they heard through the Gospel. Pray they will return when it re-opens and come to total healing from their addictions. Pray that they will be kept safe in the interim.
- Pray for the Kazakh government to soften their attitudes towards the protestant run centres and other Christian projects, and to see the positive effect they have on communities.
1 Timothy 2 vs 1-2: First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings should be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity