Central Asia is a hard place to be a church

Image courtesy of Slavic Gospel Association

(Image courtesy of Slavic Gospel Association)

Central Asia (MNN) — Violence against churches in Ukraine and Russia continue to grow, and legal reigns are tightening.

The effects are wide-reaching. Governments in Central Asian countries are feeling more free to do the same in their own countries.

Slavic Gospel Association recently received word from a contact in a Central Asian region that there is a “witch hunt” of sorts. The exact location cannot be revealed for security reasons.

Joel Griffith of SGA conveys a story which “discloses yet again the nature of just how the churches that are in Central Asia are under increasing pressure from the government there.”

A church body of about 50 people was meeting in the recreational area located on their property. Suddenly, a large group of police came, taking names and threatening the group with court proceedings.

Griffith believes the group could be fined around $10,000, which is an incredible amount for a poor church like this one.

And what is the offense? “The charge being thrown against them is that they did not get advanced permission to hold this type of activity,” Griffith says. “It’s strange that you have to get permission to do something on your own property, but that seems to be the direction this is taking.”

It’s even more serious than that: “The missionary pastor tells us now that religious organizations are being required to obtain permission from the judiciary to meet somewhere.” This applies “even if it’s in a closed recreational area where no outsiders can see or hear what’s going on. In practice, this inhibits the possibility of preaching the Gospel to unbelievers. It inhibits the church’s witnessing.”

A similar trial is taking place for another church in a different region.

It seems as though these areas could be moving toward anti-conversion laws. Pressure to create laws against religious groups often comes from all sectors of these countries, not just legislation.

As things become harder for churches in this area to spread the Gospel, their needs grow, too. Griffith says, “They’re asking prayer that we please intercede for them that somehow the Lord would just intervene in these situations. Hearing news like this really grieves our hearts.”

Read previous stories related to this topic here.