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Kazakhstan

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Christian literature is heavily controlled in Kazakhstan. Barnabas Aided the production of these booklets in the Kazakh language

In April 2013 Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, claimed that “religious freedom is fully secured” in the country. In fact Christians, who comprise at least 25% of the population, endure restrictions on sharing their faith and controls on religious literature. All churches must register with the authorities, who require that cumbersome criteria be fulfilled before registration is granted. Unregistered churches may be subject to raids and church leaders and their members given heavy fines.

One raid, on an Easter Sunday service in 2013 at a home in Zhaskent, was so traumatic that an elderly church member subsequently suffered a heart attack. The church’s leader was fined the equivalent of six months of his pension. The authorities also liquidated a Baptist seminary in 2013, and an unprecedented court ruling ordered the destruction of Christian literature that had been seized from an evangelist. This ruling was later overturned.

In a particularly invidious case, Pastor Bakhytzhan Kashkumbayev was convicted of harming the health of a church member, despite her appeals to the contrary. In February 2014, the 67-year-old pastor was given a four-year prison term suspended for three years. He was also ordered to pay his supposed victim “moral damages” of two million Tenge (£6,500; US$10,800). He was alleged to have caused psychological harm to Lyazzat Almenova, though she repeatedly protested his innocence.

New laws on religious practice were introduced in October 2011 that tightened controls. A complex system of registration was established for all religious organisations, and unregistered activity was banned; all groups were required to re-register by October 2012 or face liquidation. A group must have at least 50 members to be registered, and many small churches were stripped of their legal status in early 2012. Larger congregations have also been denied re-registration on various grounds. One group of churches that refuses on principle to register with the authorities has been warned that members’ homes that are used for worship will be confiscated if the Christians continue to meet there.

Even registered churches are subject to controls and interference with their activities. Their registered status seems to provide little protection against raids, fines and the confiscation of literature.

“Non-traditional” religious groups have recently reported increased discrimination. Converts from Islam also experience pressure from their families and communities to renounce their faith.

More than half of Kazakhstan’s population are Muslims, but the country also has a large Russian Orthodox community. Yet the number of (known) believers among ethnic Kazakhs, a traditionally Muslim people group who make up just over 50% of the population, grew from none in 1990 to as many as 15,000 by 2010.

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    • As we remember the coming into the world of our Emmanuel (God with us), pray that His presence will be very real to Christians who suffer today for His Name, to those enduring hardship and abuse in prison, those who will go hungry today because of discrimination and injustice, those who face taunts and hostility daily at work or school, and those who are subject to pressure to convert to another religion. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 12 hours ago

    • In an initiative that discriminates against Christian staff and pupils, the Indian government has announced a plan to celebrate “good governance day” on 25 December, introducing an essay competition with a financial award as an incentive for turnout. As part of this initiative, schools will also remain open on 24 and 25 December. Please pray that the government will consider the impact of this initiative on Christians and change the proposed date. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Dec 2014 00:00

    • The Maleme ostrich farm which provides employment and skills training for local Zimbabweans through the Ebenezer programme is under threat. The authorities are in the process of seizing the land, ordering its Christian owners to abandon everything. The farm also generates enough income to sustain the Shalom facilities, a much-used campsite for Christian organisations and churches that has been running since 1958. Both Ebenezer and Shalom would have to be closed down if the land is occupied. Pray for wisdom for the leaders of Ebenezer and Shalom as they seek to show grace to the authorities in the midst of these heart-breaking negotiations. Pray that God’s justice will prevail and that the land will be kept for His purposes. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Dec 2014 00:00

    • It is reported that Hindu radicals have planned an event to convert 4,000 Christian and 1,000 Muslim families to Hinduism on Christmas Day. Pray for Christians in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India who are facing increasing pressure and violence since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party gained political power on 26 May. Pray that God will grant strength to His people so that they will remain faithful. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Dec 2014 00:00

    • Praise the Lord that around 6,500 homeless Christians in Kandhamal District of Orissa State, India, now have proper homes to live in, with help from Barnabas Aid. Their houses had been damaged or destroyed more than six years ago in two bouts of severe anti-Christian violence by Hindu radicals in 2007-8. Some 60,000 Christians were made homeless. Continue to pray for the speedy completion of more houses currently under construction. Pray also that God will continue to heal the victims of this terrible trauma. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Dec 2014 00:00

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