Central Asia (MNN) – Central Asia has been known for its religious intolerance. However, this intolerance doesn’t mean God can’t move mountains or train up leaders right where they are.
Eric Mock, with Slavic Gospel Association, recently traveled to Central Asia to help train church leaders in the region with the Bible.
A Brief History
Central Asia is weird egg. It’s a land filled will Muslims and religious intolerance towards all religions. But, in the 1930s under the Stalin regime, Christian believers were exiled to Muslin dominate Central Asia in efforts to end the Christian movement in Russia.
The expectations of this sending were that the Christians, and their churches, would cease to be able to function.
Yet, the opposite happened.
“Stalin himself became one of the greatest sending institutions that they ever had during Soviet times. [Why?] Because, wherever he sent believers is where churches were planted,” Mock explains.
In fact, during the early 1990s, some ethnic groups heard the Gospel for the very first time. Since then, the Gospel has been opening up in these Muslim dominate lands.
But now, Mock says there seems to be a crossfire in Central Asia between cultures, traditions, and the need for the Gospel. Which is exactly why SGA is in the region training churches.
“So the training that we conducted was equipping the church solely with the word of God, and showing them where the word of God can be brought to bear in these different storms of life,” Mock explains.
For example, women are valued a great deal less than men in many Central Asian cultures. Actually, this region teaches men it’s okay to beat their wives into submission, leaving many homes broken from domestic violence.
“We see time and time again, when we visit these countries, women with black and blue eyes. We see homeless women who are waiting for men in another country to send money. We’ve seen men come home, with a new wife, and the woman and the kids thrown out on the street.” Mock recalls.
If a woman comes to faith before the rest of her family, she is often ostracized and thrown out with no way to take care of herself. All because she decided to follow Christ and leave Islam.
Because there are so many suffering people in this region, it makes it easier for people to either compromise or doubt their faith in God.
“As you know, through your life, there are different things that are temptations to draw you away from God. And in the middle of despair and hopelessness, there’s no greater pull away from God than despair and unbelief,” Mock explains.
For this reason, SGA is working with believers in Central Asia who need encouragement. The need to know how their faith plays out in the rest of their lives and gives peace even in the middle of violent storms.
In a lot of these Central Asian countries, the storms don’t really ever pass. Peace doesn’t come in the sense that chaos calms down. Rather, if there is peace, it’s in the heart and from God.
SGA is trying to equip the Central Asian churches to help people make sense of the storms in their lives and to know the peace given in Christ. But also, to learn what the Bible says and how to deal with different situations. However, through all of this helps, churches are learning how to train up disciples of all peoples, and fulfill the Great Commission.
“So the training that we conducted was equipping the church solely with the word of God, and showing them where the word of God can be brought to bear in these different storms of life, these different difficulties,” Mock says.
Christians are often times abused in the Central Asia. Mock has met many pastors who, when they send their children to school, their kids are often times beaten by older boys. Why? Because in this region, being a Christian and proclaiming Christ as Lord and king is blasphemy. It’s a crime that can even sometimes be punished by death.
For this reason, a lot of the work churches do to fulfill the Great Commission and evangelize is really through building relationships, holding summer camps, and being fearless enough to proclaim who Jesus Christ really is.
“We’re seeing people in these communities that would’ve been defiant to God, transformed by His grace. And we’re reminded, even in these communities, we have to trust in a sovereign God who is moving in the hearts of men…Yet, we are not called to be the ones who bring the growth, but we are called to plant the seeds and to water.”
Pray for these Central Asian churches without ceasing, they need God’s strength to continue their ministries. Pray for the ongoing summer camps, for lives to be changed and for everyone to be kept safe.
Pray for these churches to expand and grow through God’s word, and pray for God to be glorified in Central Asia and that people would know He is the one true God.
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To contact SGA directly, call 1-800-BIBLE-50.