There are only around 68,000 Christians in Turkmenistan. The total population is just over 6 million, the majority of whom are Muslim.
Persecution against Christians in this repressive Islamic state comes largely from the government and from society.
The government imposes many restrictions on church life. Unless their churches are registered, Christians are highly susceptible to police raids, threats, arrests and fines. Even Russian Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic churches may have their Sunday services monitored. The printing or importing of Christian materials is also restricted.
Believers who come from Muslim backgrounds experience intense pressure from families, friends and villagers to deny their faith, especially in rural areas.
In deciding to become a Christian, women from Muslim backgrounds go against societal expectations, where they are totally subordinate to their parents, and if married, their husband. They open themselves to beatings, house arrest, verbal abuse, threats, forced marriage, disinheritance and rejection. They may also face abduction, rape and sexual harassment.
Leadership roles in Turkmenistan tend to go to men, making them a target for persecution. They can be fined for things such as holding illegal gatherings or even downloading Christian songs. They also come under suspicion from Muslims who consider them to be at the forefront of converting others to Christianity. They attack those most actively involved in evangelism.
Christian men from Muslim backgrounds can face harassment and intimidation from families and communities, which can lead to home detention, disinheritance, shaming and beatings.
Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Turkmenistan. Your gifts and prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.
Open Doors strengthens persecuted Christians in Central Asia by providing Bibles and Christian literature, training, socio-economic projects and practical aid.
Father God, thank You for the way in which You are working in and through the church in Turkmenistan. Continue this work and fill Your people with renewed joy at knowing and sharing in the sufferings of Christ. Protect Your people, help them stand strong, and grant them wisdom and discernment to navigate restrictions and surveillance. Build Your church in Turkmenistan. Amen.
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Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.