Another crackdown in Central Asia on ministry.

By September 1, 2004

Central Asia (MNN)–Although many countries boast about religious freedom, the actual practice doesn’t always follow.

FARMS International’s Joseph Richter tells us about a recent crackdown on believers in a security sensitive Central Asian country. “The reports I get are that 63 men that have been working in the ministry have been arrested and some of them, almost 40 of them have been held close to a month now with no formal charges being filed.”

This is an area where hundreds of Christian churches, hospitals and villages have been burned down by fundamentalist Islamic groups.

Legal recourse on the injustices has been slow in coming. With these latest arrests, very little information being released.

Even more alarming is the fact that Christians are being re-labeled as ‘terrorists’. It’s a move Richter says the government uses to force the public to accept what is happening to the church.

The situation is also forcing believers to make some hard decisions. “One of the questions for the church is whether efforts should be made to try to release these men, and the prevailing thought is generally when there’s a lot of effort in that direction, then more and more names are exposed and more danger is exposed for the church, in general.”

However, the other school of thought is that this core of Christians have been given the opportunity for new outreach that is somewhat protected.

Already in jail for a ‘crime’, the believers have access to hundreds of inmates in desperate need of the Gospel. Pray for the strength of their faith in this time, and remember their families as the struggle without husbands and fathers.

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