The death of Turkmenistan’s president means uncertainty for Christians

By December 22, 2006

Turkmenistan (MNN) — Many people, including Christians, are wondering about the future of Turkmenistan, following the sudden death of its long time President and dictator Saparumurat Niyazov. Niyazov died of a heart attack yesterday after many years of heart trouble.

The question is; what does this mean for Christians. Slavic Gospel Association’s Joel Griffith says, “There is an interim president that has been appointed, but it remains to be seen exactly what’s going to be happening in Turkmenistan. When you look at the former Soviet Union and all those countries that made that up, Turkmenistan is probably the most oppressive toward evangelical churches in all of the Commonwealth of Independent States.”

Because of that the evangelical church is small, says Griffith. “There are very few worship buildings except for the Russian Orthodox churches and Muslim mosques that were officially approved by the government, very small evangelical Christian contingent there.”

Griffith would like Christians to pray. “Pray for God’s protection over them during this time. Pray that there would be an orderly transition of power to a successor government and pray that it would be favorable to the churches there. Pray for the further progress of the Gospel there.”

With 85-percent of the population Muslim, there is concern that radical Islamic elements could grab power in the country. Griffith says, “It would certainly be a matter of prayer that this vacuum of power would not be exploited by extremist elements.”

SGA is working in many of the former Soviet block nations. Funding is needed to help provide resources to national churches who are reaching out effectively.

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