Kazakhstan (MNN) — Kazakhstan recently abolished the death penalty after ceasing executions for almost twenty years. Eric Mock of the Slavic Gospel Association says Kazakhstan has been tinkering with its penal code ever since becoming an independent country when the Soviet Union fell.
Mock says, “We see different updates on how the criminal system is handled in a country like Kazakhstan. But the product is that there are a lot of people that were arrested and saw prison times for lesser crimes, as well as greater crimes.” In fact, many Christians in Kazakhstan have served prison time as well.
From prison to ministry
Some estimate as many as one in four pastors in Kazakhstan had been in prison before being called into ministry, Mock says. “Very often you’ll meet missionaries who came to faith in prison and are now zealously reaching others with the Gospel. Not only in Kazakhstan, but in Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan. There seems to be a constant theme where people that feel that they were at the point of losing everything are the primary ones who have given everything for the sake of the Gospel.”
Most prisons in Kazakhstan leave prisoners subject to disease and do nothing to rehabilitate them to live in society. Mock says the Church often steps in, providing for them and giving them hope in Jesus Christ. “The Church in Kazakhstan has many strikes against it. They’re preaching the message of Christ in the headwinds of Islam. For believers, it’s difficult to find a job. It’s difficult to advance the Gospel. They’re fighting culture and other religious distinctives,” he explains.
“So pray for the faithful believers in Kazakhstan that they would be faithful to proclaim the Gospel without fear.”
Remember, SGA has been supporting churches in Kazakhstan and other countries through the Christ over COVID program. Donate or learn more here.
The header image shows Kazakhstan in relation to China and other surrounding countries. (Photo by Anthony Beck from Pexels)