There is rising persecution in Kyrgyzstan against Christian converts. You can hear some of their stories here, as well as how your prayers and support are equipping Open Doors partners to stand with persecuted believers.
Kerim* wasn’t allowed to attend his mother’s funeral. In his small village in Kyrgyzstan, the fact that he is a Christian is enough to ban him. After everyone left, Kerim tried to quietly enter the cemetery to mourn his mother – but the mullah (a Muslim leader) and other locals threw him out. They said he would ‘desecrate the holy place’ with his presence.
Kerim asked for an explanation. Instead of getting one, the mullah forced him to pack his belongings and leave the village. The same mullah had previously demanded that the family deny their Christian faith, otherwise he would not allow them to bury Kerim’s brother in their village. The family had to hold the funeral in a Christian cemetery almost a hundred miles away.
Kerim’s story is just one example of growing persecution against Christian converts in Kyrgyzstan. Since the beginning of 2022, reports of persecution are rising – including death threats, violent attacks and mental abuse, all because of someone’s faith.
"For many Christians in Kyrgyzstan, persecution is a daily occurrence." Open Doors spokesperson
In one incident, a pastor and several church members in a small village received threats through phone calls and WhatsApp messages after distributing books of Bible stories in a local boarding school. Locals even poisoned the pastor’s dogs.
Persecution comes from within the home, too. A young mother called Kirimaya* was thrown out of her house at night by her relatives, because she’d converted to Christianity. She got a job as a cleaner and dish-washer at a local café so she could support herself and her child – but when the other people working there found out Kirimaya is a Christian, they treated her so badly that she had to leave her job.
Across much of Central Asia, and particularly in rural regions, Islamic values and traditions dominate in the culture. Leaving Islam brings oppression from many quarters, because it is seen as going against the culture of the nation. Official government bodies are almost entirely Muslim – while there are reportedly two Christians within these bodies, experts believe this is to give the impression of religious freedom, rather than genuinely offering it.
“In Kyrgyzstan, the local authorities have considerable power and tend to be under the influence of the local Muslim community,” says Aibek*, an Open Doors spokesperson for the region. “This has strong repercussions for converts to Christianity.
“For many Christians in Kyrgyzstan, persecution is a daily occurrence. They face discrimination – be it in their local community, workplace or army. Some converts are locked up for long periods by their families and beaten. Local Islamic teachers preach against them and may cause them to be expelled from their communities.”
Another example told by Open Doors contacts is that of a young man, Akim*, and his twin sisters. They all started going to church after the death of their mother, while their Muslim father was in Russia for seasonal work. When he returned and found out that his children had become Christians, he started beating them regularly. The father forced the children to study and memorise extracts from the Quran and, if they did not, he threatened to ‘break their bones’ and even kill them.
Eventually, Akim and his sisters had to run away from their house. They found shelter in a local church. The church members helped with essential supplies, and dental treatment that Akim needed after being violently attacked by his dad. Open Doors partners have now rented an apartment for Akim and his sisters, away from their village for their safety.
Please keep praying for Christians from a Muslim background in Kyrgyzstan, like Akim, Kerim and Kirimaya. As persecution continues to rise, the country could rise from its current position on the World Watch List at number 59 – and believers there need the prayer support of their worldwide family.
*Names changed for security reasons
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