Saturday, October 19
Central Asia consists of five countries sometimes referred to as “the ’stans”: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Since gaining their independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the ’stans have experienced revolutions and economic depression.
Though the fact is often forgotten by Western Christians, during the Middles Ages Christian churches were well established in the region of Central Asia. Primarily as a result of the evangelizing efforts of the Nestorian missionaries of Persia in the seventh century, by the year 1000 there were an estimated 12 million Christians in the region from the Caspian Sea to Western China, rivaling and perhaps surpassing the number of Christians then in the West. In the 12th through 14th centuries, these churches were weakened and in some cases annihilated by attacks of Mongol conquerors, from Genghis Khan to Tamerlane, and also by the Black Death, which was probably more virulent in Asia than in Europe, where historians estimate that it killed as much as a third of the population. The survivors of this double blow generally converted to Islam, either willingly or by coercion.
Today the region continues to be largely if nominally Muslim. Yet since 1991 Christianity has been making significant inroads, and now there are indigenous Protestant churches in all the ’stans. Sometimes harassed and persecuted, Christians in Central Asia are a wary, security-conscious people. Yet they are also energetic evangelists whose efforts God is blessing in remarkable ways.
Let us join in prayer for:
Let us pray
Loving Lord, we thank you that your word, after so many centuries, is once again being proclaimed with fervor in Central Asia. We pray for protection from persecution for your people there, and yet we also pray that they may be bold in witnessing to and living out the gospel, so that your light may shine forth ever brighter in those lands. Amen.