Christians concerned about religious freedom in Kyrgyzstan

By October 5, 2005

Kyrgyzstan (MNN) — In the aftermath of the March coup and successful elections in Kyrgyzstan, Christians are facing some trouble in their outreach attempts in that nation.

Bible Mission International’s Malcolm Smith says, “As they’re going out in some of these villages, some of the more fanatical part of the religious groups are trying to put pressure on them and not allowing them to come and work in the villages.”

75-percent of the population of Kyrgyzstan considers themselves Muslim. Smith says the change in leadership brought with it economic problems and land repossession. He says that’s softening hearts. “We’ve been able to come in with humanitarian aid and bring in food and to bring clothes and to meet them where they have need. And, at that level then we can share the Gospel with them.”

Smith says this hasn’t been an isolated instance. “We’ve handed out over a million Gospel tracts, over 100,000 Gospels in the Kyrgyz language, and (there) are just some great things happening there despite the difficulties.”

Christians are being careful, however. Smith says, “There are some real pockets of entrenched Islam that are very fundamental, the are very dangerous, where folks have been locked up in houses, where they’ve been threatened with their lives. It is a very dangerous situation.”

With increasing political uncertainties in Uzbekistan, Christians have even more opportunities to share their faith. “Over 700,000 Uzbeks are available to be ministered to along the border of Kyrgyzstan. So, as people are thinking and praying what God is doing among the Kyrgyz people, also ask them to pray for what God is doing among the Uzbek folks — some of the refugees that have crossed over.”

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