Central Asia (MNN) — The five countries comprising Central Asia gained independence in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed. With liberation came freedoms not accessible under Soviet rule, like the freedom of religion.
“The Protestant Christian Church in this region is very young; in some countries, maybe 20 to 30 years total,” says Noel Bechetti of A3, formerly Asian Access.
Independence also brought new challenges. “Many of these countries were part of the former Soviet Union. Joseph Stalin wanted to eliminate all cultural and language [distinctions]” to create a single national identity, Becchetti says.
When Stalin began his reign of terror, “he made groups move to different parts of the region and then brought down people from Russia to become the overseers. He made Russian the mandatory language in all of these countries. That went on until the Soviet Union finally fell,” he continues.
“These countries are now independent, but that (Soviet) legacy continues. Indigenous groups are still oppressed, excluded from many opportunities, [and] their languages are not elevated.”
These challenges extend to the Body of Christ. Typically, A3 works to unify believers across denominational lines to focus on Great Commission goals. More about that here.
“A3 believes in breaking down barriers [to build] the unity of the church,” Becchetti says.
“In our other countries, people come from different theologies, churches, backgrounds; sometimes different heart language groups.”
Pray for wisdom as A3 begins new work in four Central Asian countries this year.
Header image is a representative stock photo courtesy of Steve Harvey/Unsplash.