The region of Central Asia usually comprises the nations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. Most of it was a part of the old Russian Empire, then the Soviet Union. Today some 70 million people live in this region, one of the least evangelised in the world.
Christians comprise about 2% of the population, from 0.1% in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to 12% in Kazakstan. Most of the larger Christian communities are made up of Russians belonging to the Russian Orthodox Church. In many Central Asian nations there are great opportunities for Christian support ministries, such as Christian involvement in relief and community development. In the medical field in Afghanistan, many Christians work in humanitarian capacities to serve the people. Practical demonstrations of Christian care and love make deep impressions, breaking down prejudices and preparing hearts for the Gospel.
Growth in the number of believers is impossible to quantify, yet undeniable. At least several hundred Afghans now follow Christ, when 20 years ago perhaps a few dozen were believers. Likewise
in Kazakhstan, a number of Uzbeks and Uyghurs are turning to Christ – and beginning to take the Gospel back to their own people! Christianity is still largely an urban phenomenon, but the churches and missions are recruiting for village ministry.
Very little Christian literature is available in almost all of Central Asia, and evangelistic, apologetic and teaching materials are needed. There is a need for economic self-sufficiency for Christian publishers, for increased numbers of indigenous authors and for a greater variety of titles for this ministry.
In Turkmenistan, ethnic Turkmen Christians are few but have increased since independence. Most Christians are Russian, Ukrainian or Armenian; but among them are a thousand or so new
evangelical believers. Persecution has brought growth, greater unity and a strong spirituality, and the Church continues to grow despite the constant threats.
Source: Operation World; Global Prayer Digest; Revival Media
Bible Study: Romans 10:15
APRIL: Praise God for the work of Christian support ministries. Pray WIDER that more and more people may hear about and seek the God who motivates such Christian service, and pray too for great wisdom and sensitivity in those Christian workers as they share their faith.