Azerbaijan is a Muslim majority, oil rich country of 9.6 millions where the freedom to practice any other faith often comes with a price. According to estimates there are only 10,000 evangelical Christians. Sari Mirzoev should know. In 1991, shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, he became the first Azeri Muslim to convert to Christianity. “Nobody understood why I did this, but as I saw God at work in my life, I realised that everyone around me was spiritually dead.” He accepted Christ while attending a Russian congregation. At the time, there wasn’t a single church for ethnic Azeri people. “All the believers that I knew were Russian.”
In 1995, Mirzoev says God gave him a prophetic word that Azeri Muslims would come to Christ as a result of his testimony. Twentytwo years later, he leads the largest Azeri evangelical church in the country called Love Baptist Church. “Sometimes we have as many as 30-40 people who accept Christ as their personal Saviour in a single service,” says Mirzoev. Yet his congregation faces
constant surveillance. The church has been shut down in the past and he’s been arrested numerous times. “We are committed to praying for our president and our country. We want to see all 9
million Azeri people come to believe and know Christ. This is our dream,” Mirzoev said.
Hafiz, a young Azeri believer, is part of an outreach called School Without Walls that focuses on reaching Muslim families. “Muslims often notice that we live joyful lives, and they wonder where our joy comes from. We tell them that we are Christians, and by seeing how our lives have been changed, they can see the Gospel.” Gulshan Huseynova runs the country’s only Christian publishing company. In 1995, the government gave her permission to print Christian literature. “We started by translating the Bible so people could have God’s Word in their own language. From there we moved to producing books for children and various other Christian literature.”
Source: Sari Mirzoev, George Thomas; Joel News International
Bible Study: Romans 15:13
JULY: PRAY WIDER that the love of Christ may continue to captivate many Azerbaijanis. Give thanks for Mirzoev who has become a leading pastor, guiding the congregation at Love Baptist Church, and for the many who are now receiving Christ as their Saviour through his ministry.