Thursday, October 11
Five states of the former Soviet Union - Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Kyrgyzstan - plus Afghanistan make up the area called Central Asia. Altogether these six are commonly known as the "Stans,'' and they are predominantly Muslim countries. The five pillars of Islam, however, are not regularly practiced by most Muslims in the Stans, and when traveling in the region, one does not notice many women wearing hijabs, men praying during the day, or large attendance at the mosques.
This does not mean, however, that Christian evangelism is easy in Central Asia. Sociologists usually distinguish between religious identification and religious commitment. Muslims in the Stans tend to have a high level of identification with Islam but a low level of commitment. This suggests that though they do not practice their religion, they will not lightly adopt a new faith. Moreover, since these republics became independent in 1991, their people's commitment to Islam has been increasing, not least because Muslims from abroad have come to intensify faith and practice in the region.
Despite this, Christianity is growing in Central Asia. During the 1990s and 2000s, churches were successfully planted by the large number of missionaries that were then allowed into these countries. In recent years, the numbers have generally declined due to the hostility of the governments toward any religious people, Muslims or Christians, entering from abroad. Nevertheless, there are now indigenous churches - small, fragile, and vulnerable, but very much alive.
- Rev. Dr. Michael Parker, coordinator, International Evangelism, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Let us join in prayer for:
Please pray for people in mission in Central Asia.
Let us pray
God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for the window of opportunity that you have opened in recent years in Central Asia. In this fresh field, may your Word go forth in power, and may new believers come to faith. We pray, too, for protection, discernment, and boldness for those who labor in these fields ripe for the harvest. Amen.