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Published on 28 March, 2013

SGA says religious freedom restrictions common throughout Central Asia

Central Asia (MNN) — Remember the religion law in Kazakhstan we told you about earlier this week? It's making evangelism a criminal offense.

But the law is nothing new for Central Asia, says Joel Griffith of Slavic Gospel Association.

"Many of these national governments are beginning to retrench on religious freedom, and I don't think that, by and large, the world tends to pay a whole lot of attention to it," Griffith states, "which is certainly a concern."

Why should we care? Griffith says it's our duty as fellow members of the Body of Christ.

"We need to be in regular intercessory prayer for our brothers and sisters there. And then, we need to be as supportive as possible of them," he states.

Pray that Christians will keep living out their faith and sharing the Gospel. Pray that persecution in Central Asia will stop.

Five nations formerly belonging to the Soviet Union comprise Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan. In 1991, they were each freed from Communist rule and the Gospel began to take root.

"We had that first initial rush where there was just this great rush of religious freedom that came in," Griffith recalls.

But it's been about 20 years since the fall of the Soviet Union, and it appears Central Asia is returning to state-enforced atheism. Each of the five Central Asian nations appears on Open Doors USA's World Watch List, a collection of 50 nations that persecute Christians most severely.

In spite of this fact, Christ-followers are pressing on.

"They're still bound and determined to serve the Lord, no matter the cost," says Griffith. SGA makes sure to help them in any way it can.

"We work to provide them with the Bibles and Christian literature they need," he continues. "We try to provide training for their pastors, and church planters, and youth leaders; supporting their summer camp ministries."

The summer camps, starting soon, will run all summer. But as persecution increases, a lot of these camps have to be held in secret, sometimes even in the woods. Click here for more about SGA summer camps and how you can help kids in Central Asia hear the message of salvation.

Pray that more children will be drawn to the Lord at SGA summer camps.

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